Recently, the German Federal Cabinet approved the draft law
submitted by the Federal Family Ministry providing for new
regulations on maternity protection. Multinational companies with
employees in Germany should be aware of the new law which shall be
adopted this year and become effective as from January 1, 2017.
The draft aims to improve the protection of pregnant women,
mothers and their children and to adjust the current Maternity
Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz – MuSchG) which
already dates back to 1952 to changes in society.
Maternity Protection under Current Law
Under the current Maternity Protection Act, employees are
prohibited from working 6 weeks prior to childbirth until 8 weeks
after childbirth. In case of premature birth or twin or multiple
childbirth, the 8-week period is extended to 12 weeks.
Furthermore, pregnant employees may not be assigned any
dangerous work, night duty, piecework or assembly-line work. If
necessary, working conditions have to be rearranged in order to
meet the protection requirements.
During suspension from work, employees are entitled to full pay
and maternity allowance from the statutory health insurance
Furthermore, during pregnancy and until 4 months after
childbirth any termination of employment is invalid.
Key Aspects of the New Draft Law
The draft law provides in particular for the following
amendments to the Maternity Protection Act:
Extended Scope of
Application: According to the draft, the Maternity
Protection Act shall not only apply to women in an employment
relationship, but under certain circumstances also to school and
university students, interns and during industrial training.
Furthermore, personnel with the same status as employees, disabled
women working in workshops for people with disabilities as well as
development assistants and women assisting in the Federal Voluntary
Service shall receive the same protection.
Longer Protection Period in
Case of Disabled Children: In case an employee gives birth
to a disabled child, she shall be prohibited from working for 12
weeks instead of 8 weeks after childbirth. This is meant to take
into account the particular physical and psychological stress as
well as higher care needs associated with the birth of a disabled
Termination Protection in
Case of Miscarriage: According to the draft, the
termination protection for pregnant women shall also apply to women
who suffer a miscarriage after the twelfth week of pregnancy.
Improved Working Conditions
for Expectant Mothers: Working conditions shall be
adjusted with particular care for the health of expectant mothers
and their unborn babies. In this way, women shall be able to
continue their work without impairment of their or their
child's health. Moreover, any disadvantages due to the
pregnancy or childbirth shall be prevented.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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