Germany to relax rules for working parents who need to care for a sick child

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Germany to relax rules for working parents who need to care for a sick child
Working parents in Germany will no longer be required to get a sick note on the first day of their child's illness. Photo by MART PRODUCTION.

Parents in Germany are currently required to submit a sick note for their child on the first day of illness to receive paid time off work. But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced on Sunday that a more lenient policy is coming.


Lauterbach said that parents would only need to get a sick note (Krankschreibung) on the fourth day of their child’s illness in order to receive sick child pay (Kinderkrankengeld). 

Previously, parents who needed to take time off work were required to submit a sick note from the first day.

"Parents will no longer have to run to the doctor on the first day the child is sick in order to claim Kinderkrankengeld," the SPD politician told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Lauterbach called the current policy “nonsensical bureaucracy” and added that “we can trust the parents. Only from the fourth day of illness is the visit to the doctor necessary." 

Adults in Germany who fall ill are usually also only required to receive a sick note starting the fourth day of their absence unless their contract specifies otherwise.

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

Thomas Fischbach, President of the Professional Association of Paediatricians and Adolescent Doctors, to the Funke Mediengruppe, said the change was generally supported by the medical community.

He added that many doctors did not want the responsibility of providing a sick note, as the parents' reasons for taking sick days for children were "often simply not verifiable."

Lauterbach did not give an exact date on which the new regulation would officially go into effect but  "ideally it will apply in this winter cold season".

In Germany, parents can be released from their jobs to care for sick children through the age of 12, or older children who have a disability. Statutory health insurance takes over a large part of the loss of earnings to pay - usually 90 percent.


More sick days to be available

On Thursday, the Bundestag passed a law which increased the number of days on which parents can claim Kinderkrankengeld. 

After the special regulations which were in effect during the Covid-19 pandemic came to an end, parents were once again able to claim 10 days per child and per parent. That means that together two parents or one single parent would have 20 sick days per child.

However, the new law increases the number to 15 days per child and parent for 2024 and 2025, or a total of 30 child sick days for two parents or single parents. 

The Bundesrat (Federal Council) still has to agree to this before it’s signed into law.


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