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Reader question: When will paid paternity leave be introduced in Germany?

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
Reader question: When will paid paternity leave be introduced in Germany?
A father in Groß Grönau, Schleswig-Holstein with his six month old son. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Büttner

Germany has said that new fathers and co-mothers will have two weeks of paid paternity leave after the birth of their child - starting in 2024. Yet a concrete date for the plan still hasn't been announced.


Back in 2021, Germany’s newly formed coalition government set out plans for paid paternity leave, and at the end of 2022 Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) promised it would be introduced in 2024. 

In spring 2023, Paus then presented a bill to make the two weeks a legal entitlement for fathers and co-mothers. This would be accompanied by a "partnership wage", or payment for the time off based on the average earnings of the last three months.

READ ALSO: Vaterschaftsurlaub: What you need to know about paternity leave in Germany

Single parents would also able to nominate a person who can take two weeks off work to support them. 

The draft went to the departmental coordination between the various ministries - and has been stuck there ever since.

In the meantime, Germany is running behind schedule: an EU-wide regulation for countries to grant at least two weeks of fully paid paternity leave came into force in July 2022, and most other European countries have already adopted it into their legal framework.

When will the two weeks officially start?

In response to an inquiry from the Berliner Morgenpost this week, the Ministry of Family Affairs said that  "concrete structure of the Familienstartzeit (“Family starting time”, the official term for the paid paternity leave) and its entry into law are currently being discussed between the ministries. 

In more concrete terms, Germany’s coalition government is divided. The conflict revolves around money, or more precisely the question of who exactly should pay the costs for the ten days' leave.

The Ministry of Family Affairs' draft states that the two weeks be financed via an existing system for new mothers. All employers already pay a contribution to the “U2 levy,” which is used to pay the costs incurred by expectant mothers’ employers during their Mutterschutz, or maternity leave. 

According to the Ministry of Family Affairs' proposal, the time off for fathers and partners should also be paid from this pot.

paternity leave

Dad in Germany will hopefully soon be able take 10 days paternity leave if they are employed workers. Photo by Mikael Stenberg on Unsplash

The Ministry has calculated that this would result in additional costs totalling around €556 million per year, spread across all employers in the country. 

This means that a company with 100 employees on an average gross wage of €3,700 would incur an additional burden of €208 per month, according to calculations from the Frauenhofer Institute. For companies with 10 employees, it would total an extra €10.40 in costs for the company.

The FDP does not want to go along with this. This week they dubbed the plan a "further burden on companies" and suggested instead that the decision could be financed from taxpayer money, or Germany’s already controversial budget. 

"However, the Minister for Family Affairs has not yet been able to present a proposal for this that would gain unanimity in the cabinet,” a spokesperson told the Morgenpost. 

When asked, the Greens did not comment on the delay to the project.

"There is headwind from those who are more focussed on employers' interests," said Sarah Lahrkamp, family politician in the SPD parliamentary group. 


The coalition is therefore in "intensive discussions", and a concrete date for the paid time off has not yet been set. 

Lahrkamp said that the two weeks should not only make it easier for mothers to recover from a birth. Rather the other parent is also given the opportunity to build a deeper bond with the child.

And the time off makes it possible, says Lahrkamp, for both parents to share the care equally right from the start.

"This often leads to the partners becoming more involved in the upbringing and care of the children in the long term."

In the meantime, new fathers can apply in advance for Elternzeit, which is shared with the mother and capped at 65 percent of their salary per month, up to €1,800.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about paid paternity leave in Germany


Are private companies taking their own initiatives?

Hopes that companies could pre-empt a legal obligation to provide paternity leave are not looking so good. Only a very small proportion of companies offer fathers more than one or two days' leave after a birth.

The software company SAP, which announced last year that it would allow new fathers six paid weeks off following the birth of their child, rowed back again on Tuesday, citing the lack of implementation by the German government.

 "We are taking this as an opportunity to review our own plans in this area as well," said a spokesperson.


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