Reform of the German Maternity Protection Act – What changes?

The new German Maternity Protection Act “Gesetz zur Innovation des Mutterschutzgesetzes (MuSchG)” has come into effect on 1 January 2018. The aim of the new regulation is to ensure a modern and responsible approach to maternity leave. In addition, the legislature aimed at making the Maternity Protection Act more comprehensible and clearer in its structure, thus facilitating its applicability.

Expansion of the protected target group

The regulations of the new MuSchG apply to an extended group of persons. Now pupils, students and interns are included provided it is a mandatory internship within the framework of school or university education.

The scope of application also extends to employee-like persons, who are economically dependent on a client.

Easing of working hours at night, overtime and on Sundays or public holidays

The prohibition on working at night, overtime and on Sundays or public holidays was eased. Within certain limits, women may decide for themselves whether they wish to work accordingly if there are no health reasons against it.

By express consent and after a regulatory approval procedure, working time can be extended until 10 pm.

Increased protection for miscarriages and disabled children

The period of protection following the birth of a disabled child can – at the request of the mother-  be extended from formerly eight to now twelve weeks.

In addition, protection against dismissal was introduced for women who miscarry after the twelfth week of pregnancy.

New protection for mothers in the workplace

The employer is obliged to take all possible measures to protect the woman and the unborn child in the workplace. An occupational employment ban should now be the last possible measure. The employer needs to examine whether the existing workplace can be made safe with reasonable means, such as a modification of the working conditions or a change of workplace, before a prohibition of employment is issued.

Civil servants, judges and soldiers

The same maternity protection level applies to civil servants, judges and soldiers as applies to other employees under the MuSchG.