Protection of Working Mothers

Der Mutterschutz: Was für Arbeitnehmerinnen wichtig ist

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Jasmin is expecting a baby – a little miracle. The pregnancy, birth and Paul’s first months are a very special time in her life. During that period, Jasmin and her child need special protection, protection for working mothers. It protects the health of Paul and Jasmin during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Furthermore, it enables Jasmin to carry on working before and after the statutory period of maternity leave and gives her special protection against dismissal. What is more, it safeguards her income during the time that she is not allowed to work. Students, schoolgirls and those taking part in the Federal Voluntary Service are also entitled to this protection.

Especially during the first three months of pregnancy, pregnant women and their unborn children face risks. The earlier Jasmin informs her employer of her pregnancy, the easier it is for them to ensure effective protection. Situations, materials or objects which pose a risk to the health of Jasmin or Paul must be avoided/removed by her employer. A risk assessment therefore has to be carried out in advance to identify hazards.

In a personal conversation, Jasmin and her employer can ensure that she has the right working conditions during her pregnancy. She is entitled to such a conversation. If Jasmin is not allowed to perform certain tasks on health grounds, she can get a certificate from her doctor. Before she is prohibited from working, Jasmin’s employer must examine whether her working conditions can be adapted to comply with the regulations for working mothers. Alternatively, Jasmin can perhaps continue to work in another work environment.

Questions on the protection for working mothers can also be answered by the supervisory body responsible for the company. If Jasmin’s employer cannot eliminate risks to the health of Jasmin or Paul by taking precautionary measures, then she is not allowed to work there. However, she should only be prohibited from working to the extent necessary to protect her health and that of Paul. A ban can be limited to certain activities or working hours.

The period during which Jasmin no longer has to work begins six weeks before the estimated due date. This due date is determined by a doctor or midwife. If little Paul is born earlier than expected, Jasmin’s maternity protection is extended by the number of days of leave not taken before the birth. Because Jasmin has statutory health insurance, she receives maternity benefit (Mutterschaftsgeld) and a top-up payment from her employer (Arbeitgeberzuschuss) during the statutory period of maternity leave. Taken together, these benefits usually equal average earnings during the last three months before the birth. If Jasmin wants, she can continue working during the six weeks leading up to the birth.

After the birth, however, there is a period of eight weeks during which she is not allowed to work. In certain cases, for example multiple or premature births, mothers are not permitted to work for 12 weeks after the birth. During this time, too, a mother receives maternity benefit and a top-up payment from her employer. In the case of a child with a disability, the mother can apply to extend post-natal leave to up to 12 weeks. Under statutory health insurance, Jasmin is entitled to midwifery care. Furthermore, after the statutory period of maternity leave, she can receive parental allowance and take parental leave.

Even after returning to her company, Jasmin’s workplace must comply with the regulations under the Act on the Protection of Working Mothers. If she breastfeeds little Paul, her employer must adapt her working conditions so that Jasmin and Paul’s health is not put at risk. If that is not possible, Jasmin must be released from work and instead receives maternity pay (Mutterschutzlohn). Up until Paul’s first birthday, Jasmin is also entitled to paid breaks to breastfeed him. You can find more useful information in our brochure (Leitfaden zum Mutterschutz).