Strikes For Members

Strikes: Do parents in Germany receive a day off work when Kitas close?

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
Strikes: Do parents in Germany receive a day off work when Kitas close?
A kita worker on strike in Hanover in October 2022 holding a sign that reads 'Teacher at the limit'. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Mia Bucher

When Kitas (daycare centres) close for a few days during a strike, working parents suddenly face a problem. What happens if no other childcare is available? Does the employer then have to allow paid leave?


Over the past few weeks, public sector employees have been going on strike all around Germany in an ongoing battle for higher wages.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why are there so many strikes around Germany right now?

Kitas have been among the places most affected, with many working parents suddenly finding themselves - often on sudden notice - without childcare.

Can moms and dads also clock off their jobs to tend to their children, and can they still claim their normal wages if so?

We break down what you need to know.


Work is not possible due to caring for my child during the Kita strike. Do I still get paid?

Parents only have the right to continued payment of wages if the strike was announced at short notice, according to section 616 of the German Civil Code. 

'Short notice' usually means that the announcement was made within 24 hours before the Kita closed or, in the case of a strike on Monday, over the weekend.

However, there are many gray areas that have to be clarified in case of doubt. Talk to your employer to figure out a solution before it becomes an issue. In many cases, timely communication - even when a strike is still a looming possibility, as with a potential countrywide 'mega-strike' on Monday, March 27th - can prevent problems from arising later.

In 2023, each parent is also entitled to 30 paid sick days per child, or 60 for both parents, or one single parent. However, since parents receive the money from their health insurance, equaling 90 percent of their normal salary, it's best to save these for documented cases of illness.

How should people report to their employer if they cannot come to work?

Anyone absent from work without an excuse risks a warning from their employer, especially in some German companies especially keen on adhering to a contractual set of rules. For example, some companies require that workers announce they can't come to work through a phone call, in addition to email.

Workers should make sure they communicate clearly if - and why - they can't show up at the job, and in a way that can be documented later. That means that email is usually the best approach rather than, say, shooting off quick WhatsApp message or having a colleague give your boss a head's up you won't be making it to the office.

READ ALSO: New fathers in Germany to receive paid paternity leave 'starting in 2024

Children in a Kita

Children work on a drawing together in a Kita. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Stiftung Haus der kleinen Forscher | Christoph Wehrer

Can the employer refuse leave?

Yes, a request not to work can be initially turned down important operational reasons. However, if parents have demonstrably exhausted all their options to find alternative childcare and have still been unsuccessful, leave (even if unpaid in the case of strikes announced outside of the the 24 hour window) must be granted. 

Legally, the priority is to ensure the care of young children. In other words Aufsichtspflicht (duty of supervision of one's children) always trumps Arbeitspflicht (duty to work).


Are children simply allowed to be taken to work?

The short answer is no, at least without explicit permission from an employer. Their well-being also can't be endangered in a workplace.

Do parents get fees back during a Kita strike?

At least in the case of a short warning strike, it is difficult for parents to get Kita fees refunded. 

However, parents can still ask the Kita's Träger (operator) about the possibilities and look at the contract, as there may be a clause about when and how to seek out a refund.

The contract may just state that fees can be waived or refunded, at least in the case of a strike lasting several days or even weeks.

READ ALSO: More money and less bureaucracy: How Germany wants to change its child benefits system


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also