Applying for parental leave - Information and guidance on applying for parental leave.
As parents-to-be, you will certainly want to apply for parental leave. So that you can optimally plan your parental leave and register it with your employer in due time, you will find helpful information on entitlement, firsts and time periods below. We also inform you about the length of parental leave and provide you with free samples and templates for your parental leave application. You can also find out what to look out for when applying for parental allowance and how to apply for parental allowance.
Do not confuse parental allowance with parental leave. Parental allowance is the social benefit you receive from the state after childbirth for the care and upbringing of your child.
Parental leave is the legal entitlement of employees vis-à-vis their employers to time off to care for and raise their child. In essence, parental leave is comparable to unpaid special leave. Consequently, self-employed persons/business people are not entitled to parental leave (because they do not have an employer).
The most important tips and advice on applying for parental leave:
- Parental leave should be applied for in good time beforehand (usually 7 weeks before the start of parental leave).
- Parental leave is applied for in writing to the employer (e-mail, fax, by phone, etc. is not sufficient)
- Each parent is entitled to parental leave for up to 3 years (36 months)
- Parental leave can be terminated early without employer’s consent in order to claim protection periods for another child
- with our parental leave calculator you can exactly determine your periods and deadlines
When should I apply for parental leave
Strictly speaking, parental leave is not applied for. Employees have the legal right to it and merely indicate the claim or register the claim.
In principle, the written application for parental leave must be submitted to the employer no later than 7 weeks before the start of parental leave. If your child is already 3 years old, the application should reach the employer no later than 13 weeks before the start of parental leave. More about the exact deadlines we explain later in this article.
Notes for mothers
After childbirth, mothers are generally subject to the postnatal protection period, which lasts at least 8 weeks.
Parental leave does not begin until after the end of the maternity leave period. It is therefore sufficient if the parental leave is registered with the employer in the first week after the delivery – i.e. at least 7 weeks before the end of the maternity leave period.
If the child is born before the calculated date, the period is extended by this duration. There are also other reasons for longer maternity leave, e.g. if multiple babies are born or if the child is medically premature.
We always advise you to apply for parental leave only after the birth, because only then are the duration of maternity leave and the months of the child’s life determined. In this way, the application is created with the correct data from the beginning and there is no need for later changes. This usually takes a lot of time.
In addition, the entire planning of parental leave/parental allowance can change after the birth, e.g. if the maternity protection now lasts until the third month of life and ElterngeldPlus is no longer possible until 22nd month of life. Or the child is unexpectedly born with a disability and plans change as a result.
Strictly speaking, a change in parental leave is then only possible with the consent of the employer.
Notes for fathers
Every father has the opportunity to take parental leave. Expectant fathers claim parental leave 7 weeks before the start of parental leave. Anyone who wants to claim parental leave in the first or second month of the child’s life therefore has no choice but to apply for parental leave before the birth.
Since the calculated date of birth often differs from the actual date of delivery, it can be indicated in the application that the dates are provisional and that the final dates will be submitted after delivery. Those who claim parental leave later should only notify the employer of the parental leave with the applicable data after delivery.
Fathers should also include all parental leave months in the initial application so as not to suffer any disadvantages in the determination of parental allowance. In addition, the employer could refuse the month claimed later if the parental leave is not stated completely. In addition, it should be noted that parental leave law provides for a maximum of three interrupted parental leave periods, so anyone wishing to claim more than three periods of parental leave is dependent on the employer’s consent.
If the mother and father are not married to each other or if there is no registered partnership for both parents, the mother is generally entitled to custody and thus to parental leave. The father/life partner can acquire custody through marriage of the mother (before childbirth!), adoption of the child or a declaration of custody issued together with the mother. The declaration of custody must be submitted to the youth welfare office or drawn up with a notary.
Things to know about adoption:
Parental leave can also be applied for children in adoptive care. Adoptive parents can register parental leave with their employer during the adoption process. As soon as the child has been adopted into the household, the adoptive parents are entitled to parental leave. However, parental leave ends no later than one day before the 8th birthday of the adopted child.
Where do I apply for parental leave?
Parental leave is applied for with the employer. Anyone wishing to apply for parental leave must be in an employment relationship. Full-time and part-time employees, trainees, employees with marginal or fixed-term employment are entitled to parental leave. If you, as an employee, are not sure who is the contact person in the company responsible for processing your parental leave application, inquire directly with your employer. In some cases, you will find the responsible contact in your employment contract.
The Parental Leave Act does not apply to self-employed persons and tradesmen, as they do not have an employer with whom parental leave could be registered. However, the self-employed and tradespeople do have the option of applying for parental allowance. Learn about the wide range of counseling services offered by the parental allowance consulting of Einfach Elterngeld or use the free of charge parental allowance calculator for a quick calculation of your parental allowance!
Apply for parental leave with the employer: Here's how
A verbal application for parental leave is not legally valid. It is essential that you apply for parental leave in writing to your employer. You should therefore refrain from submitting applications by e-mail, fax or even by telephone.
You should also have your employer confirm the notification/claiming of parental leave in writing. Ideally, you should submit two copies of the parental leave application to your employer, and the employer should sign and, if necessary, stamp the receipt of the application (note: this does not constitute a confirmation/approval of the parental leave).
Can parental leave be refused by the employer?
Based on the Federal Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz, BEEG), you are entitled to parental leave until your child is 8 years old and only need to register for parental leave in due time.
Parents also do not need the employer’s consent for parental leave after the first 2 years. Here, written notification of the planned period is sufficient. However, in exceptional cases, the application for parental leave may be rejected if, from the employer’s point of view, there are urgent (e.g. economic) reasons against the parental leave application. Here we recommend a discussion with your supervisor to find a solution for both sides.
Can the employer terminate me due to or during parental leave?
Parents on parental leave enjoy statutory protection against dismissal (§ 18 BEEG).
However, if you are terminated during your parental leave, you have the option of appealing against the termination within 3 weeks. Once this period has elapsed, the termination becomes effective. However, your employer needs the approval of the state authority for a termination during your parental leave. Without this approval, the termination is invalid in most cases. If your child has not yet reached the age of 3, your protection against termination begins 8 weeks before the start of your parental leave. If you have already notified your employer of your parental leave more than 8 weeks in advance, termination is still possible until the start of the protection against dismissal. If the age of your child is between 3 and 8 years, the protection against dismissal begins at the earliest 14 weeks before the start of the parental leave.
The special protection against dismissal for parents expires at the end of parental leave and the start of work.
Can employees freely choose the period of parental leave?
As a parent entitled to parental leave, you have the option to apply for parental leave for each child. The maximum duration of each parental leave is 3 years in total and can only be taken until the child’s 8th birthday. In the parental leave application, you should already mention all the periods that you would like to claim in the first 2 years after the start of parental leave.
With regard to the 3 years of parental leave, there are other deadlines and time periods that you must observe:
Claiming parental leave is possible for the mother only after the end of maternity leave. For the mother, the period of maternity leave is included in the parental leave. Maternity leave and parental leave may not exceed the maximum duration of 3 years. The father can claim parental leave directly from the birth of the child.
You are free to choose the start and end of parental leave, with some exceptions. In total, you can divide the parental leave into up to 3 periods if you claim it within the first 8 years of your child’s life. However, if you only claim parental leave from the 3rd year of your child’s life, you are only entitled to a maximum of 24 months of parental leave. If your child was born before July 1, 2015, and you wish to apply for parental leave after your child’s 3rd birthday, this period will be reduced to a maximum of 12 months.
It is also possible that you apply for parental leave for only a few months, weeks or even days. However, the employer does not have to agree to a subsequent change in your parental leave application, i.e. he can also reject the change request.
The registration period, as well as the employer’s reservation of consent in the event of subsequent changes, can be disregarded if there are urgent/important reasons for doing so.
For example, in the case of a premature birth, where the father would have liked to take parental leave in the first month of life, but due to the premature birth can no longer meet the 7 weeks. The exceptions are regulated in § 16 para. 3 BEEG.
May employers reduce leave when parental leave is requested?
Your employer may reduce your annual leave entitlement by 1/12 for each full calendar month of parental leave, see section 17 (1) sentence 1 BEEG.
The father claims parental leave from 16.03.2022 up to and including 15.04.2022 –> the employer may not reduce the annual leave
The father claims parental leave from 16.03.2022 up to and including 15.05.2022 –> the employer may reduce the annual leave by 1/12
We recommend that, to the extent that parental leave lasts longer than the parental allowance, it should end in such a way that they are entitled to remuneration for at least one day at the end of the month.
Child born on 01.03.2022. The mother would like to claim two years of parental leave. She registers parental leave from the end of maternity leave up to and including 28.02.2024. On 29.02.2024 she takes one day of (remaining) leave and the annual leave in 2024 is only reduced by 1/12 (because of January). The employer may not reduce the leave for February because she is entitled to remuneration on at least one day in the month (on 29.02.2024).
Good to know:
During parental leave, your entitlement to residual leave does not expire. If you had remaining leave before parental leave, you can claim it even after the end of parental leave and even any further parental leave. If your employment ends during or at the end of parental leave, the remaining leave should be paid to you.
How long may parental leave last?
Each parent is entitled to 36 months or 3 years of parental leave per child. However, parental leave ends one day before the child’s 8th birthday in any case.
Parental leave can begin at the earliest from the birth of the child. For children born on or after July 1, 2015, parental leave can be applied for in 3 periods. For children with a date of birth before July 1, 2015, parental leave can only be divided into 2 time periods. If you wish to apply for parental leave after your child turns 3, you will only have 24 months of parental leave available. If you apply for parental leave after your child turns 3, but your child was born before July 1, 2015, the remaining entitlement is reduced to 12 months. Within these periods, you are free to choose the duration of your parental leave.
There is no obligation that the total duration of 36 months of parental leave must be taken. If you decide to take shorter parental leave (individual months, weeks, days), this is also possible.
How must the application for parental leave be made?
There is no template from the legislator for the parental leave application. Your parental leave application must contain the exact periods within the first 2 years during which you will take parental leave. You should submit parental leave to the employer in writing and with your signature. Parental leave should not be submitted verbally, by fax or email. Ask the employer for a written confirmation of your parental leave request. The confirmation should list the length of your parental leave and the date of application.
The employer is required by law to certify parental leave, Section 16 (1) sentences 8 and 9 BEEG.
You should have your employer confirm the notification/claiming of parental leave in writing. Ideally, you should submit two copies of the application for parental leave, and the employer should sign and, if necessary, stamp the receipt of the application (note: this does not constitute confirmation/approval of parental leave).
If at the time of the claim your child has not yet been born, but you would like to start your parental leave from the birth of your child, you should use the wording “from birth” and insert the calculated date of delivery according to the maternity passport in the application for parental leave.
Parental leave application: Guidance and tips
You would like to create a parental leave application and still need support with the wording? Below we help you to create your personal parental leave application. Use our tips and our free template for a simple application for your parental leave with your employer.
Step 1 – Download Our Free Parental Leave Form Template
Here you can download the template for your parental leave application free of charge.
Step 2 – Enter the start and end of parental leave
Enter the start and end dates of your planned parental leave.
Step 3 – If necessary, apply for parental part-time work (15-32 hours per week) at the same time.
You can apply for parental part-time work at the same time or later. A new 7-week period applies to part-time parental leave, so part-time leave does not have to be included in the initial application.
Step 4 – Submit parental leave application in person and have it confirmed.
Once you have completed the parental leave application, you can submit it to your employer by registered mail and receive a confirmation with all the important information about your parental leave.
Parental leave must be confirmed informally by the employer, § 16 para. 1 sentences 8 and 9 BEEG. This can theoretically also be done by e-mail. The employer can also use this form.
If the employer does not (want to) issue a confirmation, ask the parental allowance office to approach the employer. Most often, the employer responds to the authorities.
Apply for parental leave: Sample application, template and forms
There is no general form from the legislator for applying for parental leave. Einfach Elterngeld provides you with a free template for your application for parental leave at this point. You can download the sample application for parental leave below as a PDF or Word document.
Download Parental Leave Form Template
Applying for parental leave: Deadlines
If you are an expectant parent and would like to apply for parental leave, you should pay attention to the deadlines and time periods when planning and applying. A very good guide for finding out the exact time periods is our parental allowance calculator.
For children born on or after July 1, 2015, who have not yet reached the age of 3, you can apply for parental leave with a registration period of 7 weeks. For parental leave between the 3rd and 8th year of your child’s life, you must allow a registration period of 13 weeks.
If your child was born before July 1, 2015, a registration period of 7 weeks applies for applying for parental leave between birth and the completion of the child’s 8th year.
Tips for moms:
Do not register the parental leave until after delivery, because only then the maternity leave period and the months of the child’s life are determined. Even if you exceed the 7-week period by a few days, it is still at the employer’s discretion whether to confirm the parental leave “on time”. As a rule, the employer will only have disadvantages if he insists on the deadline and “forces” you to start work between the end of maternity leave and the beginning of parental leave, so to speak.
Tips for fathers:
Register your parental leave at the earliest 8 (due to protection against dismissal), but at the latest 7 weeks before the start of the parental leave. If your child has not yet been born at that time, provisionally use the calculated date of delivery according to the maternity record.
The most important tips for applying for parental leave at a glance
To make it as easy as possible for you to plan and apply for parental leave for your family, we provide helpful tips here on how to register parental leave with your employer.
Submit application in writing
It is essential that you submit parental leave requests to your employer in writing, by the deadline and with your signature. Applications by telephone, fax or e-mail are invalid. Use registered mail for transmission or deliver your application for parental leave in person to your employer.
Request confirmation of the application
Ask your employer to confirm receipt of the parental leave application in writing. This is important for later doubts regarding compliance with the deadlines.
The employer should confirm the parental leave as soon as possible. The confirmation should include the exact period of the planned parental leave as well as the application date.
Apply for parental allowance
If you, as a working mother or father, switch to parental leave, you will receive correspondingly less, or no more salary. To compensate for your salary, you have the option of applying for parental allowance. We will be happy to advise you on how much parental allowance you are entitled to and how you can draw parental allowance: Find out about a parental allowance consultation now.
Request an interim report from the employer
Ask your employer for an interim report of your work performance to date. You should ask for and receive this before taking parental leave. You can use the interim reference if you apply for another job during parental leave. The certificate also has advantages if you get a new supervisor after parental leave and he or she should assess your work performance more negatively.
These 5 mistakes you should avoid when applying for parental leave
Below you will learn what unnecessary mistakes you can avoid when applying for parental leave with your employer:
- Announcing parental leave by e-mail: Announcing or even applying for parental leave by email is invalid. Be sure to submit your request in writing and with your signature.
- Submitting parental leave application by fax: If your parental leave request is submitted by fax, it is also invalid. Your parental leave request should be in writing and signed when it reaches your employer.
- Applying for parental leave with scanned letter: scanned letters when applying for parental leave are also not legally valid.
- No proof or confirmation of parental leave application from employer: Without confirmation of receipt of application with timely date and periods of parental leave, you have no proof that your application has reached your employer on time and in full.
- Parental leave application delivered to the wrong recipient: If your parental leave application was delivered to the wrong recipient or an incorrect address, your employer will not receive a timely and complete parental leave application from you. In the worst case, you will not be entitled to your parental leave.
Parental leave can be used by expectant mothers and fathers. Parental leave can also be applied for children in adoptive care. Anyone wishing to apply for parental leave must be in an employment relationship. In order to take parental leave, you as an employee only need to submit a written application for parental leave to your employer.
When planning and applying for parental leave, be sure to pay attention to all the deadlines and periods. Parental leave requests can only be rejected by the employer in exceptional cases and under certain conditions. Parents enjoy before and during parental leave a dismissal protection.
In your application it is mandatory to include the exact periods of the planned parental leave and the application date must be included. When scheduling parental leave, be sure to receive at least one day of pay for each calendar month in order to avoid a reduction in your total leave entitlement.
Your parental leave application must be received by your employer in writing, on time, complete and with your signature. There is no legal template for the application for parental leave. Einfach Elterngeld provides you here with a Parental Leave Application Template which you can download free of charge.
How often can you apply for parental leave?
Changing parental leave retroactively - is that possible?
Do I have to apply for parental allowance at the same time as I apply for parental leave?
What do I have to consider if I want to apply for parental allowance during parental leave?
Can I apply for parental leave for my spouse's child?
Can I apply for parental leave as a father even if I am not married to the mother?
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