The Maternity Protection Act applies if there is an employment relationship or if the women belong to certain groups of people, e.g. those employed in home-based work.
Maternity protection primarily includes company employment prohibitions before and after childbirth.
The employer must ensure that a pregnant or breastfeeding woman does not perform certain activities and is not exposed to certain working conditions because they pose an irresponsible risk to her or her child. For example, the employer may not allow a pregnant woman to perform activities that require her to perform heavy physical labor (e.g., regularly lifting and carrying loads weighing more than five kilograms) or piecework. Pregnant and breastfeeding women must not be allowed by the employer to perform activities or be subjected to working conditions in which they are exposed to irresponsible hazards from hazardous or biological substances.
There are also certain workplace employment prohibitions for the period after childbirth. For example, a woman who has recently given birth may not be employed until eight weeks after the birth (protective period after childbirth). In the case of premature or multiple births, the mother may not be employed until twelve weeks have elapsed. The same period shall apply in cases where, before the expiry of eight weeks after delivery, the child is medically diagnosed as having a disability within the meaning of Section 2 (1) sentence 1 of the Social Code IX and the mother applies to her health insurance fund for an extension of the protection period. In the case of premature births and other premature deliveries, the period of protection after the birth is additionally extended by the period that could not be taken up by the period of protection before the birth.
Maternity protection also includes medical prohibitions on employment. A pregnant woman may not be employed if, according to a medical certificate, the life or health of the mother or child is endangered by continued employment.
Time off is to be granted to conduct examinations within the framework of maternity assistance. The prohibition of employment and the granting of time off must not result in a loss of pay.
The location and duration of working hours are also restricted. For example, a pregnant or breastfeeding woman may not, as a rule, be employed at night between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., on Sundays or public holidays, or for more than eight and a half hours a day.
If a pregnant or breastfeeding woman returns to work after the end of a ban on employment, she has the right to be employed in accordance with the contractually agreed conditions.
There are also financial entitlements. These include continued payment of wages during employment bans, maternity benefits and maternity assistance.
As part of the protection against dismiss al, a woman may not be dismissed during pregnancy, until four months after a miscarriage after the twelfth week of pregnancy and until four months after delivery. The prerequisite is that the employer is aware of the pregnancy, the miscarriage after the twelfth week of pregnancy or the childbirth at the time of the termination or is informed of it within two weeks of receipt of the termination. Exceeding this period is harmless if it is based on a reason for which the woman is not responsible and the notification is made up for without delay. This special protection against dismissal also applies to a female employee working in the family household.
In special cases not related to the woman's condition during pregnancy, after a miscarriage after the twelfth week of pregnancy or after childbirth, the supervisory authority may exceptionally declare the termination permissible.
The Maternity Protection Act requires the employer to conduct an assessment of working conditions and to inform all employees of the results of the assessment and the necessary protective measures.
If parental leave is taken, the employer may not terminate the employment relationship during parental leave.
The mother may give three months' notice of termination at the end of her parental leave, unless a shorter statutory or agreed notice period applies to her.
The maternity leave period is taken into account as a credit period in pension insurance if the pregnancy interrupted employment subject to compulsory insurance. If the maternity protection period is between the mother's 17th and 25th birthday, it is taken into account as a credit period even if there was no interruption in employment subject to compulsory insurance (Social Code VI).