Parents in employment prior to the birth are entitled to parental leave. Legally, this leave can begin as soon as the maternity leave finishes and can last until the child’s second birthday. However, extending this leave is possible with the approval of the employer.
The parental leave can be taken by just one parent or shared between both, but there are restrictions: both parents cannot be on leave at the same time; leave periods must be a minimum of two months long; a maximum of two exchanges is permitted.
Employers must be notified (preferably in writing) about the start and end date of the leave. Mothers and fathers are subject to different deadlines:
- If the mother takes parental leave first, the earliest start date is the day after her maternity leave (Mutterschutz) ends. She must inform her employer, at the latest, on the final day of the maternity leave.
- If the father takes parental leave first, he has until eight weeks after the birth to inform his employer. If his parental leave starts after the mother’s, he has to notify his employer at least four months prior to the desired starting date.