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What working parents in Germany need to know when their child is sick

With the cold and flu season currently affecting adults and children across Deutschland, a common reoccurring question is whether workers have to come into the office when their child is sick.

What working parents in Germany need to know when their child is sick
Photo: DPA

If you’re a mother or father in Germany and you’ve wondered what your rights are with regards to the workplace and an ill child, here’s what you need to know.

Do I still have to work if my child is sick?

The simple answer is no, according to section 45 in the German social security statute book provided by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.

In the event that one’s child is so sick that his or her teachers call for someone to pick them up, “most workers have the right to leave the workplace,” labour lawyer Manuela Beck told Süddeutsche Zeitung, adding that this is especially true if no one else can look after the child.

Every employee is entitled to leave of absence if their child is ill – up to a maximum of ten working days per child in the calendar year. Care for the child must be arranged though if he or she is ill for a longer period of time.

If an employee has more than two children, the maximum entitlement is 25 days. For a single parent, a maximum of 50 working days can be taken off due to sick children. They are meanwhile limited to 20 days per child each year.

What other requirements need to be filled?

The law applies to children under the age of twelve, with the exception of those with disabilities or in need of assistance. The term children can include one’s stepchildren and adopted children.

A doctor’s note must also be issued proving the child’s illness from the very first day the youngster falls ill – unlike for adults who typically require a doctor’s note for their employer on the third sick day.

Both the parent and the child moreover need to be covered by statutory health insurance. Parents with private insurance unfortunately aren’t covered by the legal right to take up to ten working days off per year if their kid is sick.

Another requirement is that no other people living in the household, such as grandparents or a nanny, are able to take care of the ill child.

Photo: DPA

Do I still get paid while caring for my sick child?

Employees typically receive their full income the first five days taken off – though not all companies offer this. As well, some employers include clauses in contracts with their employees that waive this right.

There’s also the possibility for parents with statutory health insurance to take a further five days off (15 days for single parents) under child sickness benefits. But a parent is only entitled to child sickness benefits if they can justify staying home to care for their child as necessary from a medical point of view (i.e. have a doctor’s note to show for it).

Can I take unpaid leave?

There is no general right to unpaid leave in the event that your child is sick. Check with your employer if you have any questions or doubts about this.

If your employer does grant unpaid leave in this circumstance, it should be recorded in writing to avoid colleagues potentially claiming later on that you simply failed to come into work.

If I’ve run out of sick days for my kids, can I call in sick myself?

“This isn’t advisable,” Dr. Gabriele Hußlein-Stich, vice-president of the Association of German Labour Lawyers told publisher Baby und Familie, adding that it is considered a legal violation and could lead to termination.

“If all days are used up, there is still the possibility of taking holiday days or working from home,” the labour lawyer said.

I have an important meeting at work that I can’t miss. What do I do?

In several major cities across Germany there are childcare services and organizations that look after sick kids.

While parents have to bear the costs for care themselves, this can be claimed as special expenses when it comes to tax filing season.

‘Notmütterdienst’ operates in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Cologne. There’s also ‘Zu Hause gesund werden’ in Munich and ‘Tagespflegebörse’ in Nuremberg.

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WORKING IN GERMANY

How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

Lots of foreigners in Germany hope to get a job or climb the career ladder. But are there still opportunities for English speakers who don't have fluent German? We spoke to a careers expert to find out.

How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

The pandemic turned our lives upside down. As well as having to isolate and be apart from family members, many people found themselves in need of a new job or decided they want a change in career. 

If you’re in Germany or thinking of moving here, job searching is of course easier with German language skills. But many people haven’t had the chance to learn German – or their German isn’t fluent enough to work in a German-only environment.

So how easy is it to find a job in Germany as an English speaker?

We asked Düsseldorf-based career coach Chris Pyak, managing director of Immigrant Spirit GmbH, who said he’s seen an increase in job offers. 

“The surprising thing about this pandemic is that demand for skilled labour actually got even stronger,” Pyak told The Local.

“Instead of companies being careful, they’ve hired even more than they did before. And the one thing that happened during the pandemic that didn’t happen in the last 10 years I’ve observed the job market was that the number of English offers quadrupled.”

READ ALSO: How to boost your career chances in Germany

Pyak said usually about one percent of German companies hire new starts in English. “Now it’s about four percent,” said Pyak. 

“This happened in the second half of 2021. This is a really positive development that companies are more willing than they used to be. That said it’s still only four percent.”

Pyak said he’s seen a spike in demand for data scientists and analysts as well as project managers. 

So there are some jobs available, but can foreigners do anything else?

Pyak advises non-Germans to sell themselves in a different way than they may be used to. 

A woman works on her CV in Germany.

A woman works on her CV in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

“In your home country you have a network, you have a company you used to work for that people know,” said Pyak. “This might be partly the case in Germany if you worked for an international company. But for most employers you are a blank sheet of paper, they know nothing about you. So unfortunately if they don’t know you or your country, they will assume you are worse (at the job) than Germans. It’s completely unjustified but it’s just how people are. 

“Get the employer to see you as the individual person you are, the professional you are. This requires that you have a conversation with somebody inside the company, ideally the decision maker, meaning the hiring manager or someone in this team.”

Pyak said it’s important to go into details. 

“Don’t think of me as a foreigner, think of me as ‘Mark who has been working in IT for 15 years’,” said Pyak. “Don’t read the job advert (to the manager), ask them what his or her biggest worry is and why is that important? And then dig deeper and offer solutions based on your work experience. Share actual examples where you proved that you can solve this problem.”

READ ALSO: 7 factors that can affect how much you’re getting paid

Pyak says foreigners in Germany can convince managers that they are right for the job – even if their German isn’t great. 

“What I advise clients at the beginning of the interview is to ask very politely if you can ask them (managers) a question. And this question should be: how will you know that I’m successful in this job, what is the most important problem I need to solve for you in order to make myself valuable? And then ask why this problem is so important. And the answer to that achieves a million things for you – first of all you’ve established a measurement by which you should be measured. 

“Then when you get into detailed discussion you can always tie your answer back to the question you can solve, which usually makes up 70 or 80 percent of the job. If you can solve this problem then what does it matter if you do the job in German or English?”

So in answer to our original question – it seems that getting an English-speaking job in Germany can’t be described as easy but it is very possible especially if you have the skills in your chosen field. Plus there are ways to increase your chances. Good luck! 

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