Parental leave eased to keep Germans working

Parental leave eased to keep Germans working
Photo: DPA
German Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen has made parental leave benefits more flexible during the recession so that new families don’t have to fear leaving the workforce in a cutthroat job market, daily Bild reported on Friday.

Now parents can spread their leave compensation over a combined period of 28 months instead of 14 months – if they decide to work part-time during that period, von der Leyen told the paper.

“In the economic crisis family policy has to concentrate on the basics: preventing poverty,” she said. “One prevents poverty best with work.”

If new mothers and fathers fear taking a long leave of absence, they now have the choice to work half days and still receive half of the parental leave compensation provided by the government – spreading the total amount over twice as much time.

“That gives both parents the possibility to spend time with their child and remain in their careers – and the employer profits because he doesn’t have to completely do without his worker,” von der Leyen told the paper.

Parental leave benefits, called Elterngeld, pay new mothers or fathers 67 percent of their net salary if they decide take time off or reduce their weekly schedules to a maximum of 30 hours per week. They can receive a maximum of €1,800, and a minimum of €300 for up to 14 months through the programme. However, in a bid to get fathers more involved, one parent may take a maximum of just 12 months of leave, earning the next two months of Elterngeld only if the other parent cares for the child during that time. Single parents get the full 14 months of compensation.

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