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The Partnership Bonus Months – Opportunities and Risks

11.12.2019

The so-called partnership bonus months are eight additional parental benefit plus months (four per parent), which can be claimed for four consecutive months of the child's life. In order to receive partnership bonus months, two conditions must be met:

  1. the general requirements for receiving parental benefit must be fulfilled in parallel by both parents for four consecutive months of life, and
  2. both parents must work at least 25 hours per week during this period and a maximum of 30 hours per week in each of the four months of life.

The legislator therefore promotes part-time employment for both parents with the aim that the childcare is taken over by both parents as equally as possible and that both parents "smoothly" find their way back to work.

The partner bonus can be claimed at any time after birth, so you do not have to apply for the "basic claim" first. Due to the forced part-time employment, however, the months are regularly applied for at the end of the parental allowance.

For whom is the bonus worthwhile?

The question "Is it worth it for us?" often arises in day-to-day counselling. - This question cannot be answered in general, as is so often the case with parental benefits. It depends on your individual situation.

Experience has shown, however, that we can state that the partnership bonus months are claimed if both parents aim to work part-time after birth anyway. If the requirements for the bonus are met anyway, so to speak. In this case you should in any case think about taking the minimum subsidy of EUR 1,200 for the family with you.

Be aware of traps

What sounds great at first can become a nightmare in the next moment. The current legal situation is as follows: The bonus months are first provisionally approved by the parental allowance office, after declared the expected working time, as well as the expected income in the period.

This means that after the partnership bonus months, the Parental Benefit Office will re-examine the eligibility. If, for example, the working hours have not been adhered to (also due to absence due to illness with sick pay(!) or due to a one-off under- or overrun of the working time corridor - for example due to a flexible working time regulation), the entire partnership bonus will not be paid to both parents. And this can be very expensive, especially if both parents have received more than the minimum amount.

It should also be noted that the partnership bonus months do not represent an independent type of payment under current law, but are added to the Parental Allowance Plus Months (with income). If parents have optimally designed their Parental Allowance Plus payment period (income equal to the gross income exempt from imputation), there is then a risk that this construct will be torpedoed by the bonus, because part-time income during the partnership bonus months generally increases the overall average income in the Parental Allowance Plus payment period and thus leads to a reduction in parental allowance. In this case, the reference period should be planned and calculated exactly, otherwise you may be surprised with repayments.

Opportunities and risks in optimization consulting

The partnership bonus months offer a lot of opportunities, especially for self-employed persons and employees with a lot of room for manoeuvre (partners, managing directors, shareholders, employees in family businesses, etc.). You may not exaggerate it with the optimization however not, as a social court verdict of the social court Stuttgart (Verdict from 07.06.2019 - Az: S 9 EG 3281/18) shows:

In the case, the father of the family was the managing partner of his GmbH (the german ltd.). The child's mother fulfilled the requirements for the partnership bonus without any further problems. The father, however, agreed - with himself (basically possible because of his position in the company) - a weekly working time of 25 hours. As a salary, however, he did not pay money, but received his company car (gross list price: justa little over EUR 159,000) as part of a monetary advantage. This meant that he even stayed within his credit-free limits and was able to claim EUR 3,600 parental allowance plus during the partnership bonus months.

The Parental Benefit Office stated that the information on income and the number of hours per week of 25 hours during the partnership bonus months were not credible and that the legal form was abusive.

The Stuttgart Social Court has now confirmed the decision of the parental benefit office.

In the opinion of the Social Court, the plaintiff is not entitled to parental allowance during the partnership bonus months, since the legal structure chosen by him circumvents the meaning and purpose of the partnership bonus months and therefore constitutes an unlawful exercise of rights.

On the one hand, the chosen legal structure had a favourable effect on the amount of the parental allowance. On the other hand, the waiver of salary had been made promptly after the reference period, since the plaintiff did not pay any salary during the first seven months of life, but only again at the beginning of the 8th month of life.

In addition, the plaintiff had, according to his own statements, only made this legal arrangement in order to achieve a wage payment in excess of the monetary advantage for the use of the car by receiving parental allowance. Thus the income is void not due to the care of the child, but due to the decision of the plaintiff as managing director to shorten the own salary, in order not to load the own company with a managing director salary, but to take for it social security benefits up.

This contradicts the sense and purpose of the partnership bonus months to secure the economic existence of both parents in the long run, to reduce the danger of dependence on state transfer payments, to secure fathers and mothers time with the child, without losing the connection to the working life and to improve vocational development possibilities of women.

In particular, this objective is accompanied by the fact that, in the case of gainful employment, not only must the working time amount to between 62.5 and 75% of full gainful employment, but this must also be reflected in the salary paid for it. This was not the case for the plaintiff.

Finally, the plaintiff's legal structure does not correspond to what is customary among strangers either, so that the third-party settlement also speaks in favour of the inadmissibility of the legal structure.

To the best of our knowledge, no appeal was lodged against this judgment so far.

You would like to apply for the partnership bonus months and are not sure whether it is worth it for you? Use our parental benefit software or our personal advice to apply for your parental benefit in the best possible way.

Too complicated? - Our tip

The parental allowance rules can be complicated. Make it easy and, like many other parents, use our services to get the most out of your parental allowance. We offer you many possibilities to make your application for parental leave as easy and uncomplicated as possible:

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