Elternzeit (Parental Leave in Germany)

One of the greatest benefits parents get in Germany is its generous Parental Leave available equally to both mums and dads. If you’re in employment, you’re entitled to 12 months leave in the child’s first year and additional 2 months if both parents claim time off work jointly. During this time, the employer is legally obliged to keep your position so there’s job security for you and your new family.

During this period of time, the company doesn’t pay your salary. You’ll need to apply for Elterngeld (Parental Benefits) which pays 67% of your monthly salary and capped at €1800 per month. Those who are unemployed before the birth of the child gets the minimum €300 per month. For many, the maximum amount received is less than a monthly pay cheque. However, if your family can afford it (which means digging into your savings), I highly recommend dads (not only mums) to apply for Elternzeit.

Before Theo’s birth, Dan applied to his employer for Elternzeit 7 weeks prior our estimated due date. This is a legal requirement so that the employer gets sufficient notice. We wanted to spend Theo’s first month together since we don’t have family near us. We’re glad we did as we spent a lot of time travelling back and forth the hospital for appointments in the first month.

Dan also had another month off work from November to December. That was when Theo turned 6 months old. I wanted Dan to witness for himself the milestones that Theo achieved at that age. I’m so glad he had the time off because he was there when Theo sat up, ate solids properly, shook his toys (instead of just chewing), learnt to clap, threw his toy ball etc. It was just lovely to watch them have Papa and son time, and I can tell how Dan’s really happy to be able to watch Theo learn new skills instead of just hearing (exaggerated) updates from me.

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Combined with his annual leave, Dan spent 3 months as a stay-at-home-dad. He’s the best Papa to Theo ever! I’m not sure if a baby as young as Theo understands what is Papa time. However, having seen how much he has developed and changed in the past couple of months, I think we’re really fortunate to spend quality time with Theo.

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All good things come to an end. Dan will return to work this coming Wednesday. We’ll miss him for sure.

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