Skip to main content
The contents of these pages have been automatically translated into the selected language. Deviations from the contents of the original page are therefore possible.

Maternity protection

At the place of work, study and training, pregnant women are particularly protected


Maternity protection at the place of work, study and training

To protect the health of the (expectant) mother and her child, employers must take special consideration during pregnancy and after delivery. The aim of maternity protection is to provide special care for pregnant working women in the workplace and to protect mothers from disadvantages in their working lives.

Maternity protection is regulated in the Maternity Protection Act.


Why does maternity protection exist?

Work should not become a risk or a burden during this special time. The legal regulations help to avoid disadvantages, dangers and damage to the health of (expectant) mothers and children. The law also protects against job loss and loss of income during and after pregnancy.

Among other things, the Maternity Protection Act regulates:

  • The protection of health in the workplace
  • .
  • A special protection against dismissal
  • .
  • A ban on employment in the weeks before and after childbirth
  • .
  • The protection of income during the employment ban.

To whom does the Maternity Protection Act apply?

The regulations of the Maternity Protection Act apply to:

  • Women employees in full-time, part-time and mini-job
  • .
  • Women in in-company vocational training and interns
  • .
  • Women with disabilities working in a workshop for disabled people
  • .
  • Women developmental assistants
  • Women in youth or federal voluntary service
  • Women in home-based work
  • Employee-like self-employed persons who are economically dependent on a client
  • .
  • Pupils and students, if the place, time and sequence of the training are mandatory
  • .

The maternity protection for female civil servants, judges and soldiers is regulated in separate legislation.

When does maternity protection begin and end?

Maternity protection begins as soon as you are pregnant. It applies until after childbirth and breastfeeding.

Our advice: so that your employer can implement the necessary protective measures immediately, you should report your pregnancy as early as possible. But of course, you alone decide what time you think is most appropriate for notifying your boss.

What does occupational health mean?

Physically heavy or health-endangering activities are not suitable for you as a pregnant woman. Special restrictions apply here. Thus, maternity protection aims to make it easier for you as an expectant mother to reconcile your activities with the special requirements of pregnancy.

Your employer must determine the possible hazards for each activity according to type, extent and duration. Regardless of whether an employee is currently pregnant or not, this must include hazards to which a pregnant or breastfeeding woman or her (unborn) child may be exposed. This is the so-called general risk assessment.

Once your employer learns that you are pregnant or breastfeeding, he must take another close look. He must ensure that your health and the health of your (unborn) child are not endangered. Only when the individual protective measures have been determined and so-called irresponsible hazards have been ruled out may you continue to be employed. This is the individual risk assessment.

If irresponsible hazards are identified during the risk assessments, your employer must implement protective measures in a specified order of priority and ensure consistent compliance:

  1. Redesigning your workplace
  2. .
  3. Change of job or a transfer to another and reasonable job
  4. .
  5. Operational employment ban

What regulations are part of maternity health protection?

  • Your employer must release you from work for preventive examinations during pregnancy and for certain examinations after birth, unless an appointment outside working hours is possible.
  • Dangerous work, night shifts, piecework and assembly line work are taboo for you.
  • In the location of working hours, you have partly legal say. Thus, work on Sundays and public holidays, as well as working hours until 10 pm are only allowed for you as a pregnant and breastfeeding woman, if you expressly agree. Employment after 10 pm is generally prohibited.
  • Your maximum working hours may not exceed 8.5 hours per day and may not exceed 90 hours per double week.
  • After the end of working hours, you must be granted an uninterrupted rest period of at least 11 hours.
  • The employer must ensure that you can briefly interrupt your work at any time during pregnancy, if necessary. For the breaks and work interruptions rest facilities must be provided.
  • If you are breastfeeding at work, you are entitled to a statutory grant of breastfeeding time (time off) during the first 12 months. These breastfeeding periods must be at least half an hour twice a day or one hour once a day. However, the time limit does not apply to health protection. Thus, your employer must also ensure for a breastfeeding period beyond 12 months, that the nature of your work health hazards for you and your child are excluded.
  • You must be offered in advance a conversation about the adjustments to your working conditions.

What does the protection against dismissal mean?

From the beginning of pregnancy until the end of 4 months after delivery, termination of the employment relationship by the employer is not permitted. If you subsequently go on parental leave, you can also not be terminated during this time. There are exceptions only in a few cases, for example if the company closes down. Then your employer must submit an application to the responsible district government.

The protection against dismissal applies if the employer is aware of the pregnancy or is informed within 2 weeks of receipt of the dismissal.

You yourself, however, have the right to terminate your employment relationship at any time.

What does the ban on employment during the maternity protection period mean?

During the statutory maternity protection period, you are generally prohibited from working.

  • The maternity protection period begins 6 weeks before the calculated date of delivery. You may not be employed during this period. There is an exception if you expressly declare your willingness to work. You can revoke the declaration at any time.
  • The maternity protection period ends 8 weeks after delivery. In the case of premature or multiple births, maternity protection is extended to 12 weeks after delivery. This also applies if before the expiry of 8 weeks in the newborn child was diagnosed with a disability and an extension of the protection period was requested.
  • There are special regulations for situations such as miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion. Read the information "Loss of a child in case of miscarriage, premature birth or early death".

After the maternity leave period ends, you can resume your previous employment or go directly on parental leave.

For information on financial benefits during maternity leave, click here


More informationLinks for further reading

Extensive information around the legal regulations of maternity protection:

Application forms, fact sheets in different languages, and guides:

More informationTo download