Legislative reforms regarding family and medical leave imminent

On 1 January 2015, changes to the German Care Act (Pflegezeitgesetz, PflegeZG) and the German Family Care Act (Familienpflegezeitgesetz, FamPflG) will come into force. The new regulations aim to reconcile family care duties and work.

Under the revised law, employees are entitled to work part-time in order to be able to care for sick relatives. On request, weekly working time may be reduced to up to 15 hours. Employees are also entitled to take 10 days off from work in the case of an immediate need for care. During this time, they will be reimbursed by a state fund. Employees will also enjoy special dismissal protection during this short-term care leave.

Under an option called “care time” (Pflegezeit), employees may also request up to six months of full or partial leave from work to take care of a sick relative who lives in the same household or, in the case of a minor, may also live away from home. During this time, they will be entitled to an interest-free loan from the state to support themselves. Employees are required to notify the employer at least 8 weeks prior to the intended start of their leave, and must also indicate the duration of their planned absence. From the notification until the end of their leave, employees will be granted special dismissal protection.

Under the so-called “family care time” (Familienpflegezeit), employees are entitled to reduce their working time for a maximum duration of 24 months to care for a sick relative at home or, in the case of a minor, also away from home. The working time may be reduced to 15 hours. As in the case of care time, employees may apply for a state-funded loan and enjoy special dismissal protection. The law applies to employers with more than 25 employees.

While it is welcomed as providing better options for employees with sick relatives, it has also been criticized as being an undue burden for employers.