Introduction

This document provides some information on the topic of parental leave and how it may apply to the PhD students in Helmholtz Graduate School. These are rough guidelines and the reader should be aware of different possibilities that may be different for every individual case. More information is provided by each of the related offices and are available in form of booklets and on the internet. This document was written by Shahab Sanjari and cross-checked by Gerhard Burau from HGS-HIRe. If you have additional information please add it, preferrably naming your sources in the process.

Background information

One has to differentiate between maternity leave (German: Mutterschutz), parental leave (German: Elternzeit) and parental financial support (German: Elterngeld). These three are different, must be applied differently using different forms and application procedures and are administered by different offices.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave applies only to mothers, it starts 6 weeks before the calculated birth date of the child and continues to 8 weeks after the actual birth date of the child. During this time mothers have a dismissal protection (cannot be fired) and cannot be forced to work. But if they wish and if no medical concerns exit, they can work only in the time before birth. Working during the 8 weeks after the birth is forbidden though. For multiples (twins, etc.) and premature infants these dates are different.

The gynaecologist confirms the calculated date of birth in a medical certificate. This certificate should be handed to the employer (HR department). After the birth of the child, the birth certificate must be handed to the health insurance company, and the employer must be informed.

During maternity leave 13,- EUR per day is paid by the health insurance company. Assuming a regular working contract that includes social insurance contributions (German: Sozialabgaben), additionally the difference up to the net wage (not the gross salary) which the mother used to earn, is paid to her by the employer, so that finally the mother earns what she used to receive before. This money is called maternity benefit (German: Mutterschaftsgeld).

The application should be sent to the health insurance company not earlier than 7 weeks before the calculated birth date together with the certificate from gynaecologist.

In case of PhD students with a scholorship, generally only the 13,- EUR per day is paid by the health insurance company. But the mother should ask individually, in case other benefits apply to her (e.g. sickness benefit (German: Krankengeld), etc.).

Parental leave

Parental leave can be applied for up to 3 years. The application should be sent to the employer* latest 7 weeks before the start of the leave*. Ask your employer for possible existing templates/forms. You must tell your employer your plans for the leave. Also during this time parents (mother or father) are protected against dismissal.

IMPORTANT: If you plan to go for parental leave directly after maternity leave, you should apply LATEST ONE WEEK AFTER the birth date of the child! This is very important and causes many problems.

Parents' money

Parents' money may or may not apply to you, depending on your VISA situation e.g. if you are a citizen of European union or not. Usually VISA that are given solely for the purpose of education is not sufficient as a requirement. But you are encouraged to check individually for your case. Please also check this link: http://www.familienatlas.de/awca/a.asp?id=edq.

Assuming that you fulfil the requirements, parents' money can be applied only for the duration of up to 12 months after the birth of the child. If the other parent also applies for the parents leave and money, an additional 2 months is added, making a sum of up to 14 months after the birth of the child.

The amount of parents' money is about 65\% to 67\% of average net income of last 12 months prior the actual birth date of the child. If the parents did not have an income in any of those months, then that month will count as 0 income in the average. The maximum amount is 1800,- EUR, and the minimum is 300,- EUR per month.

The application should be sent to the parents' money office (German: Elterngeldstelle) immediately after you received your copies of birth certificate from civil registry office (German: Standesamt). A list can be found here http://www.bmfsfj.de/BMFSFJ/familie,did=88966.html.

Baby and HGS-HIRe

As you may already know, the Helmholtz Graduate School for Hadron and Ion Research (HGS-HIRe) is not the institution that provides the scholarship money. HGS-HIRe is only a coordinator and manager of scholarship contracts between different scientific and academic parties, i.e. you, your supervisor at the university and the real funding source of the scholarship, e.g. the Helmholtz International Center for FAIR (HIC for FAIR). To put it in a nutshell, HGS-HIRe does not have own scholarships but it centrally organizes the PhD scholarship programs of HIC for FAIR, EMMI, and F\&E/GP-HIR (the doctoral scholarship program within the bilateral cooperation agreements between GSI and the universities). Therefore it is always a good idea to contact HGS-HIRe as primary contact point.

Any legal requests such as parental leave and money needs to be negotiated with the funding partner that provides the scholarship money in your contract. Unfortunately, a unified legal foundation for parental leave is missing at this point. Scholarships are given in order to accomplish a successful project within a given time resulting in an achievable scientific goal. The details are then left to the other party of the contract, your supervisor.

Nevertheless, after negotiations with the partner programs providing doctoral scholarship, HGS-HIRe has achieved the following minimum benefits for all those scholarship students in HGS-HIRe: (1) Scholarship holders with one or more children receive a child supplement (current rates can be found here: http://hgs-hire.de/application/info/rates.shtml). HGS-HIRe arranges for the payment of the child supplement as soon as the scholarship holder notifies HGS-HIRe of the childbirth. (2) The scholarship contracts of mothers and fathers can get extended, if requested, for up to 12 month on top of the usual scholarship term of three years. This extension is, however, subject to the general agreement of funding by the corresponding scholarship program. At this point, the responsibilities of the funding source and HGS-HIRe end. How you like to use this extension of the contract is not discussed at this level any more and should be handled individually between you and your supervisor as described below.

Baby, your supervisor and you

Fortunately most of our supervisors are very much understanding. But for any case, it is recommended to consider the following in order to prevent awkward situations:

  • You should inform HGS-HIRe.
  • Your supervisor must know about your plans. It is strongly suggested that you discuss your parental plans during a "PhD Committee Meeting" before the birth of the child. Explain your intentions and the amount of time you like to:
    • not work at all
    • work half time in the office
    • work half time at home
    • a combination of above
  • Discuss, how much should/could be expected form you during the parental leave, e.g. with a baby on the arms and even if you are at home, it is difficult to make a poster for a conference whose deadline was yesterday!
  • Write the discussed points into the section "Comments" of the "PhD Committee Meeting" form and let your committee members sign it. This way the record is officially kept at HGS-HIRe office in case problems occur in the future.

More information

More information on child care at the University of Frankfurt can be found on the web page of http://www.gleichstellungsbuero.uni-frankfurt.de/arbeitsbereiche/familienservice/index.html. Please also check this link http://www.familienatlas.de/awca/a.asp?id=edq under the topic of publications for more information (unfortunately only in German). Here are more information under http://www.bmfsfj.de/BMFSFJ/familie,did=89272.html.

All the best for you and your baby

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Topic revision: r3 - 2013-09-12, PaulG
 
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