Maternity protection period: What moms-to-be should know

From when does the statutory maternity protection period apply? How many weeks after the birth does it last? And who is entitled to maternity pay during this period? We have all the information for pregnant women who want to get their start in life with a child sorted out in good time.

Medizinisch geprüft - Siegel
reviewed by our insurance experts

Protection period for mothers at a glance

The statutory maternity protection period for expectant mothers normally begins six weeks before the birth and eight weeks after delivery. In the case of premature births or multiple births, for example, the maternity protection period may be extended to 12 weeks after the birth. During the maternity protection period, privately insured employees receive maternity benefits from the Federal Social Security Office. Those who are self-employed and are members of a private health insurance company do not receive maternity benefits. An alternative to compensate for the loss of earnings during maternity leave is to receive daily sickness benefits. For this purpose, private daily sickness allowance insurance should be taken out in good time.

Maternity protection period: What the law says

As soon as you have the positive pregnancy test in your hands, a new, exciting life begins for you as a mommy-to-be. Regardless of whether the pregnancy was eagerly awaited and planned or whether you first must get used to the idea of becoming a mother, from now on there is a lot to organize. Because life with a child must be well prepared. We explain the statutory maternity protection periods, how premature birth affects the maternity protection period, how maternity benefits work for privately insured women, and how maternity protection affects your private health insurance - so that you can start your new role as a mommy in a relaxed way.

The statutory maternity protection period stipulates that, as a pregnant woman, you may only be employed six weeks before your due date with your express consent. There is even an absolute ban on employment during the protection period after the birth: you are not allowed to work for eight weeks to concentrate fully on your health and that of your baby. However, you also enjoy protection against dismissal during this time. If your child is born before the expected delivery date or with a disability, you have the option of extending the maternity leave period to twelve weeks. In the case of multiple births, the protection period is also extended to twelve weeks after the birth. The legal basis for this is the Maternity Protection Act. If you would like to stay at home with your baby for longer, you can apply for parental leave after the maternity protection period.

Private health insurance and maternity leave

The good news first: You remain privately insured even during maternity leave. This is because your insurance status is determined by how and where you were insured before the start of maternity leave. Pregnancy, birth, and maternity leave have no effect on your insurance relationship. This means: You enjoy all the benefits of your private health insurance even as a pregnant woman or new mom. Of course, the private health insurance covers all necessary preventive examinations and doctor's visits - depending on your individual tariff, further benefits may be added.

Important to know in connection with private health insurance and maternity leave:

You must also pay your private health insurance contributions during maternity leave and parental leave. The monthly payments to your private health insurance are therefore also due before and after childbirth. Since you do not go to work during maternity leave, as a privately insured employee you generally do not receive an employer's allowance for health insurance - you must therefore pay the full amount yourself, unless your tariff provides otherwise.

And what happens after parental leave?

When you return to work after your maternity leave, you may want to work less at first so that you can be there for your child. As a result of the reduced working hours, you will earn less - which may cause your income to slip below the compulsory insurance limit. This is €69,300

If you earn less, you will have to take out statutory insurance. Under certain circumstances, however, you can be exempted from compulsory insurance and remain in your private health insurance. The insurance experts at your insurance provider will be happy to help you with this.

Private health insurance and maternity benefits: Making financial claims

Public health insured (expectant) mothers receive maternity benefits from their public health insurance during the maternity protection period. This amounts to a maximum of 13 euros per calendar day. The employer tops up the amount to the previous net salary. 

But what about this "maternity protection allowance" in private health insurance?

If you have private health insurance as an employee, you will receive a maximum of 210 euros - not from your private health insurance, but from the Federal Social Security Office. 

Even then, there is a subsidy from your employer. If you are self-employed and a member of a private health insurance company, you are not entitled to maternity benefits. In this case, you should cover your loss of earnings during the maternity leave period in another way, for example by taking out private daily sickness allowance insurance in good time.

If you wish to receive daily sickness benefits for the duration of maternity leave, you must provide the insurance company with proof of the estimated date of birth. This can be issued by your gynecologist or midwife. You will then receive the agreed daily sickness benefit during maternity leave.

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Please note:

The insurance contract must have been concluded at least eight months previously. If you are planning a pregnancy and want to bridge the maternity leave with daily sickness benefits, you should therefore look for a suitable provider early on.

Sick on maternity leave - and now?

What happens if you fall ill as a new mother? Don't worry: Sick leave during maternity leave does not reduce your entitlement to maternity benefits and thus also to the allowances from your employer. This even applies if you have already taken advantage of six weeks of continued pay from your employer before giving birth. In this context, it is important to distinguish between a ban on employment and incapacity for work.

A ban on employment is imposed if, as a pregnant woman, you would endanger your health or that of your baby if you continue to work. Your doctor will issue a certificate for this. Once maternity leave begins, you may no longer be employed - unless you give your consent. In principle, however, a ban on employment can also last longer. For example, if you are doing physically demanding work or work that is hazardous to your health, such as assembly line or piecework.

If you are unfit for work, i.e. on sick leave, your employer is obliged to continue paying your wages. You will continue to receive your salary for a maximum of six weeks.

Are you expecting a baby? We wish you a relaxed pregnancy and a great start to your new life as a mom!

Marie-Theres Rüttiger
HIER SCHREIBT Marie-Theres Rüttiger

Marie-Theres is online editor for health and insurance topics at ottonova. She designs the editorial plan, researches and writes mainly about (e-)health and innovation that make life better.

ottonova sales experts
HIER SCHREIBT ottonova sales experts

Our ottonova team of experts has over 40 years of experience in private health insurance and answers questions about it every day. What are old-age provisions and for whom does private health insurance make sense? What is the actuarial interest rate and which tariff is right for you? They know!

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