Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) has announced the introduction of two-week parental leave for 2024. With the project, Germany is implementing a directive of the European Union. The SPD, Greens and FDP had agreed on the new payment in their coalition agreement.
So far, only women are entitled to 100 percent continued wages if they have a child. The Maternity Protection Act usually provides for six weeks before the expected date of birth and eight weeks afterwards. In the future, partners will also be entitled to paid time off after the baby is born. It has not yet been decided whether they will also receive the full gross wage. The EU regulation does not require this.
In Germany, employers finance the lion's share of the costs of maternity leave. Because the statutory health insurance companies only cover 13 euros a day. The employer's share is financed by a contribution that every company has to pay, regardless of whether it employs young women at all. According to the Federal Statistical Office, expenses for maternity leave amounted to almost 3.8 billion euros last year.
The declared goal of the EU's compatibility directive is equality between men and women at work and in the distribution of childcare. While men have so far had a significantly higher employment rate than women, the opposite is the case with unpaid family work. Paid paternity leave is intended to make it easier for partners to develop a close bond with the child in the first few weeks of life.
Germany already exceeds the minimum standards for parental leave for the following months, which are also stipulated in the EU directive, with the parental allowance benefits that apply here. As has been customary in this country since 2006, at least two months of time off must be reserved for fathers throughout the EU. The federal government is already planning a third partner month.
The EU directive adopted in 2019 should have been implemented by the member states last August at the latest. Because this deadline was not met, Brussels initiated infringement proceedings against Germany and 19 other defaulting countries.
However, the federal government refers to the current crisis. The current situation is currently difficult, especially for small and medium-sized companies. That is why Family Minister Paus does not want to tackle the legislative project until next year. The traffic light coalition finally promised the economy a “moratorium on stress” last summer.
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