Parental allowance (Elterngeld) provides support for parents who work less or not at all after the birth in order to care for their child. Parental allowance is available to every mother and father. While receiving parental allowance, you may work up to 30 hours per week. It is also possible to not work at all. You do not have to interrupt higher education or vocational training in order to receive parental allowance.
You can either apply for parental allowance on your own or together with the other parent. There are three kinds of parental allowance: basic parental allowance (Basiselterngeld), parental allowance plus (ElterngeldPlus), and the partnership bonus (Partnerschaftsbonus).
You receive basic parental allowance for at least two months and up to your child’s first birthday. If you both draw parental allowance, you can receive it for 14 months in total. You are free to divide up these months between you. You can draw basic parental allowance together, consecutively or alternately. Single parents are also entitled to the additional two months.
Basic parental allowance ranges from 300 to 1800 euros per month, depending on your income prior to the birth of your child. As a rule, it amounts to 65 percent of your net income. Parents with a low income receive up to 100 percent of their net income. If you are working part-time while drawing parental allowance, this has an impact on the level of your parental allowance. Your income after your child’s birth is taken into account. If you had no income before the birth, you can receive a minimum amount. If you have other small children or the newborns are twins, you may receive higher amounts.
One example: a mother receives basic parental allowance until the child is 8 months old. After that, the father receives basic parental allowance when the child is between 9 and 14 months old. The parents have thus exhausted their entitlement to 14 months of basic parental allowance.
With parental allowance plus, you can extend the period during which you receive the allowance. Parental allowance plus is provided for twice as long as basic parental allowance. If you do not work after the birth, parental allowance plus amounts to half as much as basic parental allowance. If you are working part-time after the birth, parental allowance plus may amount to the same as basic parental allowance in combination with part-time work. Parental allowance plus may be especially worthwhile then because it is the same or almost the same amount but can be drawn for twice as long as basic parental allowance.
This enables you to receive more parental allowance. Parental allowance plus amounts to between 150 and 900 euros per month. Basic parental allowance and parental allowance plus can be combined. Parents who share the responsibilities of family and career evenly can receive the partnership bonus. It amounts to four additional months of parental allowance plus, which you receive if you both work part-time at the same time. If you are single parent, it is enough if you alone fulfil the prerequisites.
You can claim the partnership bonus at any time: before, between or after drawing basic parental allowance and parental allowance plus. That could work like this: The mother receives basic parental allowance during the child’s first 4 months, the father during the 5th and 6th months. Both parents receive parental allowance plus between the child’s 7th and 14th months. From the 15th to the 18th month they both work between 25 and 30 hours per week and claim the partnership bonus during that period.
You can use the online parental allowance calculator (Elterngeldrechner) to give you a rough idea of how high your parental allowance could be. You can apply for parental allowance in writing to your local parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle). With the free new form-filling assistant ElterngeldDigital you can depending on which federal state you live in – fill in the application for parental allowance electronically at www.elterngeld-digital.de and submit it directly.