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Job and family at the same table: an impossible task for many people during the corona crisis

Laptop on the kitchen table, zoom meeting on the screen, whining children next to it, lunch on the stove: Home office combined with all-day childcare overburdens many families. That’s why the federal government decided in early January to radically increase the number of sick days for children during the Corona pandemic.

Who is entitled to child sickness benefit? How many days may be taken? And until when does the new regulation apply? The most important answers.

What are children’s sick days and when can they be taken??

Children’s sick days is a benefit provided by the statutory health insurance funds under which parents can take time off from work to care for a child in the event of illness. However, during the Corona crisis, this definition was expanded: parents are now allowed to take children’s sick days if they simply do not have a care option for their child.

This is the case, for example, if the child’s daycare center or school is closed due to the pandemic – but also if local authorities ask parents to care for their children at home, if possible, despite daycare centers being open.

Does the rule also apply if you work from home??

Yes. The German Federal Ministry of Health announced in a press release: "Parents who (could) work in a home office also have the option of applying for children’s sick pay instead if they have the necessary childcare needs."

How many children’s sick days can be submitted?

Normally, each parent is entitled to ten days of children’s sick pay per child covered by statutory health insurance. This has been doubled to 20 days. If there are multiple children, each parent is entitled to a maximum of 45 work days in total.

Example: for a family with two parents and three children, the parents could take a total of 90 working days off – just under four months.

What about part-time?

Can part-time workers take the same number of child sick days as full-time workers? Although parents in particular often work part-time, this case is not quite clearly defined by law. Labor lawyer Olaf Sauer told SPIEGEL that the law refers to working days – i.e. every day on which there is a duty to work is counted.

However, it is difficult that only full days can be billed to the health insurance companies. "One problem is time off for half days, which is not provided for in the law," Sauer says. This applies, among other things, to parents who normally work full-time, but currently have to care for the children on a half-day basis – for example, because grandparents can only take care of the children in the afternoons.

Even the specialist lawyer does not find a simple solution for this: "For such cases – which are by no means unusual for families – employers and employees must find creative solutions within the framework of flexible working hours in order to do justice to the specific situation," says Sauer. Here the law should be urgently improved, so the lawyer.

Can unused days be transferred to the other parent??

There is no legal entitlement to this. In such a case, the German Federal Ministry of Health advises talking to the employer of the parent who has already exhausted the children’s sick days. If the employer agrees, unused days of one parent could be transferred to the other one.

How many child sick days do single parents get?

Those who have sole custody or can prove they care for their children alone are normally entitled to 20 days per child, but under the Corona conditions this is now 40 days. If there are several children, single parents are entitled to a maximum of 90 working days in total.

For which period does the regulation apply?

The new rule is intended for the entire year 2021 and applies retroactively from the 5th day of pregnancy. January 2021.

What about school holidays?

If vacations were extended or unscheduled due to the pandemic, entitlement to the children’s sickness benefit also applies during this period. For regular vacation periods this is not the case.

How much children’s sick pay you get?

Children’s sick pay amounts to about 90 percent of the lost net wages. If one has received one-time payments such as vacation or Christmas bonuses in the previous twelve months, the amount can even be between 90 and 100 percent of the net salary.

Who can apply for children’s sick pay?

In principle, all employed persons who, like the children concerned, are insured by law and for whom no person living in the household can take over childcare.

Separate rules apply to the following groups:

Privately insured: If a child has health insurance through a privately insured parent, neither parent is entitled to the children’s sickness benefit – not even the partner who may be insured by law. For those with private health insurance, there is the possibility of compensation for loss of earnings under the Infection Protection Act.

Self-employed persons: Those who are self-employed full-time and have statutory health insurance can only apply for children’s sick pay if there is an entitlement to the regular sick pay in the insurance cover.

Civil servants: Federal civil servants are also entitled to the extended sick days for children. The individual state authorities decide on the regulation for state civil servants.

450-Euro-Jobber: Parents with low-paid employment are unfortunately not entitled to child sickness benefits, as they are not subject to health insurance contributions. However, you are entitled to unpaid leave from work.

Persons on short-time work: Statutorily insured persons are also entitled to child sickness benefit during short-time work. But: Short-time allowance and child sickness benefit may not be drawn at the same time.

How to apply for child sickness benefit?

The application runs directly through the respective statutory health insurance fund. The health insurance funds have already made forms for the new regulation available for download on their websites.

What other financial options are there for working parents?

All parents, regardless of children’s sick pay, are also entitled to Corona special leave and related lost earnings payments under section 56(1a) of the Infection Protection Act.

This includes up to ten weeks per parent and up to 20 weeks for single parents. However, the compensation amounts to only about 67 percent of the net salary and is capped at 2016 euros per month.

And: If one of the parents receives child sickness benefit – and is thus able to perform the care work – the entitlement to the loss of earnings payment is suspended.

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