The German Mutterschutzgesetz (Maternity Protection Act) provides special protections for all female employees during pregnancy and after the birth of a child. It protects these employees from dismissal, financial losses, and health risks in the workplace. Maternity leave for working women starts six weeks before the birth (or before the due date) and generally ends eight weeks after delivery (twelve weeks in the case of a medically attended premature birth or multiple birth). Expectant mothers are still permitted to work during the protective period preceding the birth. There is an absolute prohibition on working in the first eight (or twelve; see above) weeks following the birth.
The Maternity Protection Act itself does not set any time limits for when employees should notify their employer about the pregnancy. However, the employer can only comply with its obligations under the act if it knows about the pregnancy. Dismissing a pregnant employee is prohibited from the start of the pregnancy until four weeks after delivery. If the mother takes parental leave after the child's birth, the protection from dismissal that is afforded to her is extended beyond the time limit provided in the Maternity Protection Act and continues until the expiration of the parental leave.
Pregnant employees must be given time for necessary preventive medical examinations that are only possible during working hours, without any reduction in their pay. For further information, please see the Maternity Protection Act or consult the Occupational Health Service.