Read part 1 here.
Shared Parental Leave in Germany & France
German legislation grants an entitlement to paid parental leave (“Elterngeld”) for up to 14 months after the child’s birth for both employees and self-employed parents: Parental leave has to be taken for a minimum of two months by either parent and one parent can take up to a maximum of 12 months. If both parents share childcare, parental leave will be extended for an additional two months (“Partnermonate”). This provision seeks to enhance gender equality and parental leave can be taken consecutively or concurrently. Both parents could, for example, take seven months of parental leave at the same time and exhaust the total of 14 months in that way.
Statutory parental leave pay is calculated on the basis of the average net income earned in the year before the child’s birth. Parents are entitled to receive between 65% and 67% of their former net salary with a cap of € 1,800 per month. The minimum amount is € 300 per month.
On 1 January 2015 a reform concerning parental leave pay became effective providing flexible solutions for parents who wish to return to work sooner on a part-time basis (“Elterngeld Plus”). Parents now have the option to prolong paid parental leave. “Elterngeld Plus” allows parents to double the time of paid parental leave to up to 28 months in cases of shared parental leave – but the amount of parental leave pay per month is capped at 50 % of the regular rate parents would receive if they did not work part time. One month of “Elterngeld” equals two months of “Elterngeld Plus”. It is possible to combine regular “Elterngeld” and “Elterngeld Plus”. Further, a bonus of four additional months of parental leave pay will be granted for each parent, if mother and father work part-time simultaneously for more than four months.
Both mother and father, may take parental leave during the first three years of their child’s life (“Elternzeit”). During parental leave, where the employer employs more than 15 employees, employees are generally entitled to work part-time, between 15 and 30 hours a week.
In order to benefit from parental leave in France an employee must have been employed for at least two years by the time the baby is born. Parental leave begins at the end of maternity leave (the duration of which is up to 15 months).
New legislation has been introduced, the aim of which is to encourage a better distribution of leave between the parents. As the mother will no longer be able to take the father’s entitlement to parental leave, the reform has the net effect of reducing the length of parental leave if the father does not take his share. This applies to the parents of children born on or after 1 January 2015.
Parents can choose to share their parental leave, taking 18 months each for example. Parents can also decide to work part time (at least 16 hours a week) during their parental leave.
For the first child in a family, parents will be able to take six months parental leave each. The six months will begin after the maternity leave. If one parent is not taking their six months the other parent cannot take it for them. For the second child and others that follow after, parental leave is up to three years but each parent can take up to 24 months only.
The full amount of shared parental pay is € 390.52 per month. If one parent works part-time (50% part-time) the amount is reduced to € 252.46 per month and is further reduced to € 145.63 per month if the parent works 50-80% part-time. Both parents can collect this financial aid but it must not exceed a total of € 390.52 per month.
In France, 60% of the fathers take their eleven-day paternity leave but only 1.2% of them take their parental leave compared with 5-10 % in the Nordic countries. It is hoped that the new legislation will improve these figures.
This article has been co-authored by Emmanuelle Ries and Susanna Grichtmaier of ebl legal services. ebl miller rosenfalck is an international business law firm in London with a specialist employment team advising on all international HR issues in Europe.
Emmanuelle Ries is co-editor of Workforce Restructuring in Europe, which published in September 2015.