Extend parental leave
Sometimes things turn out differently than planned – this is also true for parental leave planning. During parental leave, many parents discover that they would like to look after their child for longer after all, or that the daycare place is not yet available. How and whether you can extend your parental leave, we answer in this article. One thing in advance, however: An extension of parental leave is possible under certain conditions.
In principle, the effective request for parental leave (i.e. the first written request) is binding for employees (Section 16 (1) sentences 1 and 2 BEEG). This so-called binding effect is intended to protect the employer, who must make arrangements for the period of time off work, and places the risk of changed circumstances on the employees.
The most important facts at a glance
- Parental leave can be extended if the employer agrees (Sec. 16 (3) Sentence 1 BEEG).
- The employer must agree in certain situations, e.g. if an originally planned change of beneficiaries cannot take place for an important reason (§ 16 para. 3 p. 4 BEEG)
- An extension of parental leave must be submitted to your employer and should include your address, the address of your employer, the request and the exact period of the planned extension of parental leave
Extend parental leave: These are the reasons
For parents, there are various reasons why an extension of the originally registered parental leave may be considered. Reasons for an extension of parental leave can be, for example, a lack of a childcare place or outside childcare too early. Some parents also feel that they are not yet ready for the normal working day or that the planned sharing of parental leave by both parents cannot take place. We present the various reasons for extended parental leave.
You do not want to end the parental leave yet
It may well be that at the end of parental leave, the mother or father finds that a change to the normal work routine is not yet possible for personal reasons. This may also be the case if parents wish to accompany the child’s development for a longer period of time or if a career change is considered during parental leave.
Your child is not yet ready for care by others
If parents find that their child is not yet ready to be cared for by others due to personal development, an extension of parental leave can be useful and save (possibly unnecessary) stress. Extended parental leave can also be helpful for children who have higher care needs (e.g. in the case of disabilities).
You do not (yet) have a daycare place
Some employed parents do not find a free and suitable care option for their child before the parental leave ends, despite the entitlement to a daycare place. This can also sometimes be related to the allocation of daycare places in the respective federal state. If the free places in the childcare centers are only allocated on a certain date in the year, there may be little or too much time between the date of birth and the start of daycare.
Differences with the employer
Another reason for extended parental leave may be a strained working relationship between the employed parent and the employer. For some parents, extended parental leave represents an option to reconsider the professional situation anew and with distance.
Planned change of beneficiary is not possible as planned
Many parents plan parental leave in such a way that the father and mother take parental leave one after the other. However, there are various reasons why this planning may fail. Alternating parental leave for both parents is, for example, more difficult or no longer possible in the event of illness, separation or divorce.
As much as one would like to plan and structure parental leave precisely, it is often just as difficult when plans or life situations change. With (young) children, you learn flexibility, patience and a willingness to compromise – and it is precisely in the area of parental leave that these skills are particularly in demand.
Don’t hesitate to talk to your partner when fears arise or plans don’t seem to be working out. Together you can find a solution or seek competent help to show you your options.
Requirements for extending parental leave
Section 16 of the Federal Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act serves as the legal basis.
If parental leave is applied for in the first 2 years after the birth of the child, the beneficiary is bound for the periods specified in the initial application, so-called binding effect – § 16 para. 1 sentence 2 BEEG. As a rule, the employer must grant you these periods.
If you have registered your parental leave for 1 year and wish to extend it, the employer does not have to approve the subsequent extension. However, the employer is bound by Section 315 (3) BGB. Accordingly, the decision may not be made arbitrarily, but must also take into account the interests of employees with a desire to extend their parental leave.
If you have already claimed 2 years of parental leave and would now like the third year of life to also be on parental leave, you do not need the consent of the employer. However, you must claim the notification of the extension to the employer at least 7 weeks before the beginning of the further parental leave.
In principle, parents have no legal entitlement to an extension of parental leave. Consequently, it can only take place with the consent of the employer. However, in accordance with the principles of Section 315 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – BGB), the employer must decide at its reasonable discretion whether to grant the consent required to extend parental leave in accordance with Section 16 (3) sentence 1 BEEG (see Federal Labor Court, judgment of October 18, 2011, 9 AZR 315/10).
Accordingly, the employer must present reasonable and understandable reasons for refusing the extension and, in particular, take into account the interests and concerns of the employee when making the decision. Such reasons will tend to be rather difficult to find in professional practice. The most that can be considered is that the employer needs the employee again for the performance of duties and that the hiring or extension of a substitute is not possible or reasonable.
So keep the following in mind when applying for an extension:
- Submit the application in due time.
- Do not exceed the maximum number of periods (3 sections) by extending the parental leave.
- Check as far as possible that there are no urgent operational reasons that your employer can assert against your application. Such a reason can be presented by the employer, for example, in the understaffing of the company.
Is it possible to extend parental leave even if the employer refuses?
You have already applied for an extension of the 1-year parental leave with your employer and were refused? An extension of parental leave may still be possible in exceptional cases. Here you can find out in which situations an exception may apply:
Possible despite rejection if:
- Your economic existence is at risk,
- Force majeure exists, such as: Death, illness or disability of child or parent,
- you are pregnant again, or
- If you are still on maternity leave
Can the employer refuse to extend parental leave?
If you have registered 1 year of parental leave for the first 2 years after the birth of your child and now wish to extend it, your employer can object to your request for extended parental leave if there are urgent operational reasons. The company must be understaffed and imperatively dependent on your labor. Since you have already given your employer binding details of your exact parental leave for the first 2 years after the birth, your employer does not have to agree to a subsequent extension of parental leave.
Instructions: How do I apply for an extension of parental leave?
Below, we provide you with tips on how to successfully extend your parental leave with your employer.
Step by step guide
If you want to extend your parental leave, your request must reach your employer at least 7 (or 13) weeks before the end of your first parental leave. Deliver your request in person or use certified mail. Email or fax transmission is not acceptable for your parental leave extension request.
Your application can be informal, but it must include your address as well as the employer’s address and a clear subject with reference to the extension of parental leave. The exact start and end of the extended parental leave must also appear in the application.
Ask your employer to issue you a written confirmation of the application for extension of parental leave. If possible, the date of delivery should be mentioned here (important in case there are “disputes” about this later).
Who do I need to inform about the extension of parental leave and where should I report?
Learn who needs to be notified about your extended parental leave.
You must inform your employer at least 7 (or 13) weeks before the end of your parental leave that you have decided to extend your parental leave.
Employees with compulsory insurance retain their non-contributory membership during parental leave, irrespective of the parental allowance they receive ( § 192 Para. 1 No.2 SGB V), as long as the monthly income subject to contributions does not exceed 450€ gross. If you are voluntarily insured or work part-time during parental leave, the health insurance fund will check your insurance status/contribution amount individually.
The health insurance fund is usually informed about your parental leave status by your employer via the social security notifications.
Who pays if parental leave is extended?
Parentalleave is the legal claim of employees against the employer for unpaid time off. During part-time parental leave of 15-32 hours per week, you will receive the contractual (part-time) remuneration.
You can quickly and easily find out whether and to what extent you still have parental allowance entitlements left with our free Parental allowance calculator.
If applicable, you will no longer be entitled to parental allowance during the extended parental leave, but you should check whether you are entitled to child bonus or housing subsidy.
In some federal states there are additional family support benefits, e.g. in Bavaria the family or crèche allowance or in Saxony the state education allowance. It is best to obtain information from your local authorities.
What deadlines must be observed?
We recommend that you inform your employer in good time about an extension of your parental leave. Your application for an extended parental leave should reach your employer at least 7 weeks before the end of your current parental leave, if it is to follow on seamlessly from the current parental leave.
If your child has already reached the age of three, the deadline is 13 weeks.
A verbal extension of parental leave is not legally valid. It is therefore essential that you apply for the extension in writing to your employer. Refrain from submitting applications by e-mail, fax or even by telephone.
You should also have your employer confirm the extension of parental leave in writing. Ideally, you should submit two copies of the application, and your employer should sign and, if necessary, stamp the receipt of the application (note: this does not constitute confirmation/approval of the extension!).
Application extension parental leave: samples and templates
Use our free samples and templates to extend your parental leave.
Sample letter parental leave extension within the first two years of life
Here you can download our free sample letters as PDF and Word documents.
Free templates to download:
Notice: The parental leave extension should be requested at least 7 weeks in advance. The employer may refuse an extension in justified cases.
Sample application for parental leave extension between the third and eighth year of life
Here you can download our free template for the application for (extended) parental leave between the third and eighth year of life.
Free templates to download:
Notice: The extension of parental leave from the age of three must be notified at least 13 weeks before the start of parental leave.
Extend parental leave after 1 year
If you have bindingly applied for parental leave for 1 year and now want to extend this period subsequently, you need the consent of your employer. In this case, you do not have to observe any special deadline. However, we recommend that you inform your employer of your request in good time. Your employer may decide on your request at its own discretion and may not reject your request arbitrarily.
You can find more information in the article above.
Extend parental leave after 2 years
It looks less problematic if you have already registered parental leave for 2 years and now want to extend it to 3 years. In this case, you do not need the employer’s consent. You only need to submit your application for an extension of parental leave at least 7 weeks before the end of the active parental leave.
The most important tips for extending parental leave at a glance
We summarize for you what you need to look out for when extending parental leave.
Be aware of the deadline for submitting your request for an extension of parental leave. Your request must reach your employer at least 7 weeks before the end of your active parental leave. If your child has already reached the age of three, the deadline is 13 weeks.
Submit application to your employer:
If possible, submit your request for an extension of parental leave in person or use certified mail. Verbal applications and applications by e-mail or fax are not permitted. Make sure your data is complete (your address, employer’s address, period of extended parental leave, date).
Ask your employer to provide you with written confirmation of your request. It is mandatory that the confirmation includes the date of your application submission and the period of the requested extension of parental leave.
The employer is obliged to provide written confirmation in accordance with Section 16 (1) sentence 8 BEEG.
Inform the health insurance fund?
It is not mandatory to inform the health insurance fund about the extension of your parental leave, as it receives the information via your employer’s social security notifications.
In the case of an existing compulsory insurance, your membership remains non-contributory. In the case of private or voluntary statutory health insurance, as well as in the case of a/continued part-time employment during the extended parental leave, the health insurance fund may recheck your insurance status and adjust the monthly contribution if necessary.
Generally, your first parental leave application is considered binding and must include the exact periods of parental leave for the first 2 years of life. There may be various reasons for extending parental leave.
If you want to extend a 2-year parental leave to 3 years, you do not need your employer’s approval.
If you have been on parental leave for 1 year and wish to extend your leave at a later date, your employer has a so-called right of approval and can therefore also reject your application. However, the employer may not reject your application arbitrarily, but must also take your interests into account.
In some situations, exceptions may apply. Be sure to submit your request for an extension of parental leave to your employer no later than 7 weeks before the end of the parental leave (or 13 weeks if your child has already reached the age of three).
When submitting your written application, make sure it is complete and have your employer provide you with a meaningful and correct confirmation. If necessary, consult your health insurance company about the parental leave extension, especially if you have private or voluntary statutory insurance or take up a part-time job.
Do I have a right to the former workplace?
How often can you extend parental leave?
Can parental leave also be terminated prematurely?
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