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Parental leave benefit

Country of implementation
Germany
General short description of the innovation
The parental leave benefit (Elterngeld) is paid to mothers and/or fathers interrupting their career to take care of own children. The amount of the benefit is linked to previous wages as recipients get 67% of their average income from gainful employment for the 12 months preceding the birth of a child. The maximum benefit is 1.800 Euro. Mothers and/or fathers who were not gainfully employed prior to the birth of the child, are eligible to the minimum parental leave benefit of 300 Euro. In general, parental leave benefit is granted for a period of 14 months following the birth of the child. However, the maximum period of benefit / eligibility for one partner is only twelve months. This means that the other partner also has to interrupt his/her career to take care of the children at least if the couple wishes to obtain the benefit over the entire period of 14 months. In June 2014, the parliament passed a new law to enhance the attractiveness of the scheme. In addition to the existing rules, a new benefit, parental leave benefit plus shall be introduced that focuses particularly on young parents who want to continue to work but to reduce their weekly working hours. Instead of 12/14 months, young mothers and/or fathers who continue to work in pa / rt-time are able to receive the parental leave benefit plus for 24/28 months. In doing so, average weekly working time may not exceed 30 hours.
Target group
Total Population
Policy Field
  • family
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
2007; open-ended
Scope of innovation
  • Budgets: no fixed budget. Annual average expenditure is at present about 4.7 billion Euro. However , when taking into account that the parental leave benefit is credited against means-tested benefits like the unemployment benefit II or social assistance, the average annual expenditure is reduced to 3.2 billion Euro.
  • Spatial coverage: national
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
1. First, the scheme should enable mothers and/or fathers to interrupt their careers to take care of their new born children. / 2. Second, labour market participation of (young) mothers should be increased by speeding up their return to the labour market. / 3. A third objective was to increase the involvement of fathers in child care and domestic work. / 4. In addition, the new parental leave benefit plus aims to support mothers and fathers not willing to / completely interrupt their careers but willing to reduce their weekly working time in order to care for the children. / In general, the parental leave benefit clearly stresses the political objective to foster the development towards dual-earner families.
Type of ideal-typical strategy for the innovation
  • typical strategy for the innovation (optional; according to Obinger)-flexicurity
Type of innovation
  • new form of policy-making
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • benefit duration (duration varies depending on the kind of benefit (parental leave benefit or parental leave benefit plus) and, if both partners are willing to interrupt their career or to reduce weekly working time. )
  • benefit eligibility (In general, parental leave benefit is granted for a period of 14 months following the birth of the child. However, the maximum period of benefit eligibility for one partner is only twelve months. This means that the other partner has also to interrupt his/her career to take care of the children at least if the couple wishes to obtain the benefit over the entire per iod of 14 months. )
  • leave schemes
Intended target group
Women and men with children under 14 months (parental leave benefit)/28 months (parental leave benefit / plus)
Working age population
  • care responsibilities (care for children [0-16/16+], for elderly or other family members) (Care for children [0-14 months/28 months] )
  • main source of income: paid work
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • making/implementation and/or evaluation-central state
  • making/implementation and/or evaluation-municipal government
Intended output
  • benefit duration
  • benefit eligibility
  • benefit level
  • leave schemes
Did the innovation have any outcome related to job quantity?
Considerable increase in the employment rate of mothers having children between one and two years of age between 2000 and 2011 (32% in 2000; 40% in 2010)
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
Despite the increase in employment participation of mothers having very young children, the parental leave benefit is especially taken up by mothers. In 2012, only 22.4% of fathers eligible to parental leave benefit made use of it, while the respective share for mothers is 77.8%. In addition, there are strong gender differences with regard to the duration of the parental leave benefit. While 92.3% of eligible mothers receive the benefit at least 10 months, the vast majority of fathers (77.5%), eligible for the benefit, takes only the remaining two months.
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