What are the rights of pregnant women in Germany?

Every woman should be well aware of the rights of pregnant women in Germany in order to fully understand her rights, whether during pregnancy or childbirth. German law protects pregnant women from the health risks that they might face during this period.

It’s not limited to health risks alone; German law also provides protection for pregnant women from financial issues or sudden job loss due to their pregnancy.

Based on this, the German legislative council has actively worked towards enacting numerous provisions within labor and social laws that emphasize providing protection for pregnant women during this period. This includes maternity leave periods and individual entitlements.

What is the law to protect pregnant women in Germany?


The law protecting pregnant women in Germany encompasses the legislations established by the state to safeguard women during their pregnancy and postpartum period from all the risks they might face in the workplace.

However, it should be noted that the law protecting pregnant women and childhood in Germany is not applicable to self-employed women or women working for their own accounts.

You can also read more about pregnancy and childbirth in Germany and how to access assistance.

Moreover, all pregnant women are subject to legislative protection, whether they are working full-time or part-time.

The law comes into effect and provides protection for the woman from the moment she informs her employer about her pregnancy. Consequently, this ensures that she will not face dismissal from her job or the imposition of additional tasks.

The rights of pregnant women in Germany in terms of health

The German law regulates the rights of pregnant women in Germany, applying to all pregnant and breastfeeding women in the workforce, irrespective of the nature of their employment, whether full-time or part-time.

However, what matters for the purpose of obtaining protection is the formal employment relationship within German companies. Consequently, the Maternity Protection Act becomes obligatory if a company regularly employs more than 3 women.

Categories allowed to obtain protection under the law

  • Contractual workers are also included, regardless of the formal arrangement of their employment relationship.
  • School and university students.
  • Women receiving vocational training are also covered.
  • Social care volunteers.

Categories that are not entitled to protection

  • Housewives.
  • military personnel.
  • In the event of adopting a child.
  • judges.

Providing occupational safety for pregnant women

The German Maternity Protection Act requires employers to assess the health risks that pregnant women might face during work, in addition to conducting occupational safety examinations.

In the event of refusal to carry out these measures, pregnant women have the right to refrain from going to work without the risk of losing their job or income.

You can also read more about divorce procedures in Germany and when they can be requested.

The rights of pregnant women in Germany also apply to female students


The rights of pregnant women in Germany, concerning female students, include the entitlement to a legally protected period of six weeks before childbirth and eight weeks after childbirth.

While adapting conditions to meet all the needs of pregnant women, it’s important to consider each case individually.

The rights of pregnant women in Germany also extend to cases of abortion

There are some women who do not wish to continue their pregnancies and consequently make the decision to undergo an abortion. What is the opinion of German law in this situation? Does it also provide protection for the mother as is the case in previous instances?

Abortion, according to German law, is permissible only in the following circumstances:

  • In cases where the fetus cannot survive outside the womb.
  • If the weight of the fetus does not exceed 500 grams.
  • In the event of a pregnancy not progressing beyond 24 weeks.

Consequently, if an abortion occurs outside the aforementioned circumstances, the maternal protection law cannot be applied to the woman who underwent the procedure. Instead, she is entitled to receive healthcare and treatment according to the general rules established within the country.

Opinion of German law on abortion

Abortion is considered illegal in Germany under Article 218 of the Criminal Code. However, the law does allow for abortion to take place without punishing the woman, but only in specific exceptional cases. These cases include:

  • In the event that a woman decides to terminate the pregnancy, she must adhere to the established deadlines and legal regulations. This means that the abortion must take place within 12 weeks of gestation.
  • If the decision to have an abortion is made before this period, it is necessary to contact the advisory organization and obtain a special certificate from them in order to receive comprehensive pregnancy counseling.
  • In the case where the pregnancy is a result of rape, and thus abortion is permissible within the first 12 weeks of gestation, there is no requirement to contact an advisory organization.
  • If the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman’s physical or mental health, it is permissible to terminate the pregnancy, provided that this is confirmed by a medical certificate.
  • In the case of abortion, if the woman is under 18 years of age, obtaining consent from one of the parents is necessary.

You can also read more about how to get parental allowance in Germany, the Elterngeld?

Abortion costs in Germany

The full costs of abortion are covered in cases where pregnancy is the result of rape or poses a threat to the woman’s health. This is facilitated through the Health Insurance Fund or the Social Care Office.

However, if the abortion is due to other reasons, the woman herself will bear some of the costs. In Germany, the Health Insurance Fund covers the costs of medical consultation and supervision by the physician, as well as the necessary medications before and after the procedure.

As for the costs of the abortion procedure itself, the woman will cover them herself, ranging from 200 to 600 euros. It’s worth noting that if she receives benefits from the Social Care Office, Job Center, or BaFöG loan, or if she has a low income, there might be assistance available to help with these costs. Here, the woman is entitled to submit an application to the Health Insurance Fund requesting coverage for the abortion costs.

Cases of adoption of children after birth and no abortions

A mother who is unable to keep the child after birth can opt for adoption. In this case, the Youth Welfare Office in Germany would take over the care of the child. Until a final decision is made, the process involves finding a new family to provide care for the child.

What is clandestine childbirth in Germany?

In cases where a mother wishes to keep her pregnancy private, avoid abortion, and not involve anyone, the German state offers what is known as “confidential birth.” In this scenario, the pregnant woman can safely give birth in a hospital, and only the medical staff will be aware of the situation.

When the child reaches the age of 16, they are entitled to know the first and last name of the birth mother under certain conditions. As for the costs, you are not required to pay for consultation and childbirth expenses. You can contact the counseling organization that provides this service 24/7 and in multiple languages.

You can also read more about the components of foster homes in Germany and adoption law

The rights of pregnant women in Germany and obtaining leave


The German law is designed to protect the rights of pregnant women in Germany during pregnancy, after childbirth, and while breastfeeding. Maternity leave for women begins six weeks before the expected due date.

As a result, a woman cannot work during this period unless she wishes to do so on an intermittent basis. However, the company cannot compel her to work, especially during night shifts, weekends, and public holidays.

The rights of pregnant women in Germany at work

The physician can decide to exempt the pregnant woman from going to work if they observe a risk to the health of either the mother or the child in general.

In addition, a pregnant woman is limited to working a maximum of 8 hours and 30 minutes per day. Moreover, working is prohibited between 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM.

After childbirth, a woman is not allowed to work for 8 weeks, even if she herself wants to return to work for financial reasons. This is completely prohibited under German law, except in the case of the infant’s death during or shortly after childbirth.

However, there may be different rules in some exceptional cases, including premature birth, twin births, or a child with disabilities. In such cases, the ban on work after childbirth can be extended to 12 weeks, especially if the child is born before completing 9 months of gestation.

Here, the days of maternity leave are not eliminated. Instead, they are added to the mandatory postnatal custody period of 8 weeks after childbirth.

You can also read more about kindergeld in Germany and the rights of children born in Germany

Women’s rights in Germany during lactation

As for a woman’s rights in Germany during the breastfeeding period, the employer is required to provide designated breaks for breastfeeding, especially within the first year. There are two breaks available, either one for 30 minutes or one for 60 minutes, during each working day.

Additionally, there’s the possibility to adjust the number and duration of these rest periods. In case of any disputes with the employer, the supervisory authority is consulted to resolve them.

Dismissal from work and the rights of pregnant women in Germany


German law obligates all employers not to make a decision to dismiss a pregnant woman from employment for any reason, especially during pregnancy or within 4 months after a miscarriage occurring after 12 weeks, as well as within 4 months after childbirth.

Upon the issuance of a termination decision in cases where the employer is unaware of the pregnancy, the woman has the right to inform about her pregnancy within two weeks of the decision. At that point, the termination will be revoked. However, there are other cases of termination that cannot be revoked, including the following:

  • Completely closed business.
  • Company bankruptcy.
  • The impossibility of continuing business operations without the employee who will be on maternity leave.

Entities responsible for covering the costs of pregnant women in Germany

The rights of pregnant women in Germany stipulate that a portion of the costs should be covered by the German government’s health insurance fund. The insurance pays around 13 euros per day from maternity funds.

The employer is required to pay maternity pay, which is not the regular salary, but rather the difference between the net wage and the maternity benefit from the cash register. This is calculated based on the net income using the last 3 payment receipts prior to employment restrictions.

In the case of health insurance from the German special fund, the Federal Social Security Office is responsible for disbursing maternity benefits.

During maternity leave, the maternity leave allowance is not paid, but the position is reserved. The employer is not allowed to terminate the employee and hire someone else in their place.

The mother receives the child allowance starting from the month of the child’s birth, in addition to the parental allowance, which both parents can receive during the first or second year.

You can also read more about Pro Asyl in Germany – a haven for refugees to preserve their rights

Frequently asked questions about the rights of pregnant women in Germany

Can a pregnant woman be deported from Germany?

Pregnant women cannot be dismissed during the last six weeks before childbirth and the first eight weeks after childbirth. Following this period, requesting her to leave or terminating her employment, along with her child, is possible.

Can a pregnant woman be fired from work?

Pregnant women in Germany cannot be terminated from employment even after childbirth until the child reaches 4 months of age.

Louaa Waheed

أعمل في المجال الصحفي منذ 9 سنوات كمحررة صحفية ومحررة ديسك بالإضافة إلى عملي كسكرتير تحرير لمدة عامين، فضلاً عن كتابة المحتوى والمقالات في جميع المجالات سوى العقارات، كما أنني أجيد أعمال الترجمة من الإنجليزية إلى العربية، كما أنني أجيد كتابة القصص القصيرة والفيتشر، أعشق القراءة والكتابة ليس فقط لأنها مجال دراستي ولكنها أيضًا من هواياتي المفضلة، أتطلع دائمًا لتحسين مسيرتي المهنية فقد عملت في العديد من الأماكن التي اعتز بأنني جزء من فريق العمل بها وأسعى دائمًا للبحث عن ما هو جديد لكي أصقل من مهاراتي وخبرتي.

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