Due to the Pandemic an increasing number of parents are no longer able to meet the requirements for parental benefit (Elterngeld). Parents working in systemically relevant areas (e.g. nurses, doctors, police officers) are always required in the workplace, while others are forced to stay more at home because of the short time work or because they are released from the work. Expectant parents fear being disadvantaged when calculating benefits, as they have to work part time or are temporarily under fully reduced hours compensation.
Families affected by the crisis should continue to receive the parental benefit, especially because they need it. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend) has quickly found good solutions:
- parents with systemically important professions. Parents working in systemically relevant professions are now in particular demand in the workplace. If they are unable to take the months of parental leave they are due between 1 March and 31 December 2020, they can postpone them until June 2021. The months taken afterwards will not have a negative influence on the amount of the Elterngeld for another child. These months may be excluded from the calculation of the parental benefit;
- partnerschaftsbonus. This help is an additional bonus given to mothers and fathers who have decided to work part-time to share their children’s education. Parents will not lose it if they are currently working more or less than expected due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The indications given at the time of application apply;
- decrease in income due to the Coronavirus crisis. Support income benefits such as reduced hours compensation (Kurzarbeitgeld) and unemployment benefit (ALG I) do not reduce the amount of the Elterngeld. This applies to parents who have hitherto worked part-time and who receive the parental benefit. Months with a lower income can be excluded from the calculation of parental allowance. This applies to expectant parents who have lost income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Will there be negative consequences on the calculation of the Elterngeld if one is pregnant and because of the Coronavirus both future parents have lost their jobs?
No. The loss of income suffered between 1 March and 31 December 2020 due to the Coronavirus crisis can, if desired, be excluded from the calculation of parental benefit. This is provided for in the legislative proposal of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs. If the law enters into force, only the months before the crisis will be taken into account for the calculation of the Elterngeld sum.
If someone will be called back from parental leave because he is engaged in an area of systemic importance, what would happen to the Elterngelds he perceives?
If someone is engaged in work of systemic importance, he can now postpone all months of parental leave that were originally intended to be taken between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020 without consequences. It will be possible to receive the Basiselterngeld (basic parental allowance) at a later date, even if the child has already turned 14 months old.
In case the parental benefit will be postponed, when will the money be paid out?
The parental benefit is expected to be received by 30 June 2021 at the latest, provided that a profession of systemically important is carried out.
If someone receives the Elterngeld, but in the last 2 months he has already worked more than the 30 hours per week allowed. Are these months of parental benefit now lost or can they still be postponed?
The particularly complicated situation caused by this crisis has changed things a bit. Contrary to the usual regulations, it is now possible to reverse the decisions taken in the application for the parental benefit, even if monthly amounts have already been paid out. It is possible to go to the Elterngeldstelle (parental benefit office) and request a postponement of the parental benefit with a retroactivity up to 3 months. The amounts already paid will be recovered or compensated with the subsequent right to the parental benefit.
If, in case you are thinking to have another child, you postpone the current parental benefits to a later period which would fall in the 12 months before the birth of the second child and during the whole time the only source of income is the parental benefit. What effect will this have on the Elterngeld of the next child?
When calculating the Elterngeld for the next child, it will be possible to exclude parental benefits periods for an older child as soon as the adjustments proposed by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs have entered in force. This means that for the calculation of this benefit will be used the income of the previous months instead of the current ones. Normally, this is only possible for months when the oldest child was less than 14 months old. If, due to systemically important employment, no parental benefit has been received for months before the 14 months of age of the oldest child, since you are forced to postpone (until after the child has reached 14 months of age) such months may be exceptionally excluded.
What activities are considered of systemic importance?
Activities that are essential for public life, safety and the provision of services to people are among the most important:
- activities in institutions and authorities for security and public order;
- activities to ensure infrastructure and public supply. These include energy and water supply, transport and passenger traffic, and road maintenance. It also includes the sectors of nutrition, daily goods and services, health and nursing care, education, child and youth welfare and care for the disabled people.
The following rules may help to assess whether your activity is systemically relevant or not:
- regulation for determining critical infrastructure according to the BSI Act;
- regulation on exceptions to the Working Time Act following the Covid-19 crisis;
- state law provisions on emergency childcare;
- if you are not sure, it is better to ask to the Elterngeldstelle if your activity is systemically relevant.
Someone has already requested the Partnerschaftsbonus starting in the autumn, but it is no longer certain whether he will be able to meet the 25-30 hour part-time work schedule. Will the partnership bonus be lost?
If the requirements of the partnership bonus already claimed due to the Coronavirus pandemic cannot be met anymore, eligible beneficiaries will still receive it immediately after the change in the law. For the period 1 March and 31 December 2020, the amount of income and the amount of working hours will depend solely on the information provided on the application form. You will therefore receive the bonus in the amount already set out in the provisional approval notice. The rules for the couple’s bonus apply to all parents, even those who do not work in systemically important professions.