Maternity protection, maternity leave, and flexible studying

Pregnant and breastfeeding students learn more about maternity protection, and students with family responsibilities obtain information about flexible studying.
[Photo: Fotolia]

Maternity protection

The Maternity Protection Act, or “MuSchG” for short, (§ 1 subsec. 2 sentence 2 no. 8 MuSchG) includes health protection for the student and her child at the place of study during pregnancy, after childbirth, and during the breastfeeding period. The law enables the student to continue her university studies during this time without endangering her health or that of her child, and is intended to prevent disadvantages during pregnancy, after childbirth, and during the breastfeeding period. Regulations in other laws on occupational safety and health remain unaffected.

Maternity Protection Act [de]

In your own interest, if you become pregnant during your university studies, you should inform the university of your pregnancy. Only then can the university take protective measures.

Please inform the commissioner for student maternity protection in your study program [de] (see list) that you are pregnant. Please use the form ‘Notification of pregnancy / breastfeeding period’ [de] for this purpose. You can use a copy of the pregnancy record, with the name of the expectant mother and the estimated date of delivery (other personal details may be blacked out), or a medical certificate with an estimated date of delivery as a proof of pregnancy.

If you are studying a subject that could endanger the child during teaching or laboratory work, the commissioner for student maternity protection will invite you to an interview and check with you which teaching or laboratory work are potentially hazardous. An individual risk assessment will then be made for you regarding each of these courses.

For the calculation of the protection periods and the expected duration of the breastfeeding period, please inform the Admissions Office of the actual date of delivery after the birth of your child (copy of birth certificate).

If you also have an employment relationship with the university as a student assistant or research assistant, you should send your notification of pregnancy to both the commissioner for student maternity protection in your study program and the Personnel division.

The University of Stuttgart is legally obliged to conduct a so-called risk assessment in accordance with § 10 MuSchG shortly after you have notified the university of your pregnancy. This is usually done by competent personnel within your department and, if necessary, the occupational-safety unit will get involved.

The risk assessment aims to identify potential hazards to you and / or your child in terms of their type, extent, and duration, and to specify the necessary protective measures that should be taken. If this risk assessment shows, or another medical certificate according to § 16 MuSchG certifies, that you cannot fully or partially pursue your university studies before or after the birth of your child due to health reasons, or that there is a risk of danger, the protection of your child is of higher priority.

This applies to the continuation of your university studies during your pregnancy, maternity protection periods, and the breastfeeding period. A statement on your part that you do not wish to take maternity leave or make use of protection periods is then no longer effective. This applies in particular to activities that are not permissible for pregnant students according to § 11 MuSchG, and to activities that are not permissible for breastfeeding students according to § 12 MuSchG, in case an unjustifiable risk still exists despite all reasonable protective measures (§ 13 subsec. 1 no. 3 MuSchG).

The result of the risk assessment and any resulting protective measures will be discussed with you. You will receive a written notification of the result of the risk assessment and of the beginning and end of the protection period, as well as information on maternity protection and maternity leave [de], from the Head of the Examination Committee or from the Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies of your study program.

Information for teaching staff and internship supervisors on maternity protection and maternity leave

Explanatory comments on the form ‘Notification of employment of a pregnant or breastfeeding woman according to § 27 Maternity Protection Act’ [de] (risk assessment): ‘Information about the previous job before pregnancy’ on page 1 refers to the university place / internship position. The weekly working hours and the maximum daily working hours refer to the total time spent studying.

The statutory maternity protection period starts six weeks before the estimated date of delivery. The maternity protection period usually ends eight weeks after the birth of the child. The maternity protection period after childbirth can be extended to twelve weeks:

  • due to a preterm birth (confirmed by a medical certificate),
  • due to a multiple birth, or
  • if the child has been diagnosed with a disability before the end of the eight-week period after birth, and an extension of the protection period has been requested.

In the case of premature delivery, the protection period after childbirth is extended by the period of time that could not be taken before the date of delivery. If the estimated date of delivery is exceeded, the protection period is not reduced. It is also eight or twelve weeks.

Students may apply for a leave of absence for good cause. Making use of protection periods under the Maternity Protection Act constitutes a good cause. In addition to the above-mentioned protection periods before and after childbirth, a protection period can also result from a medically confirmed prohibition to work.

Students on maternity leave are allowed to attend courses, complete academic work, and take exams without restrictions. As a rule, the leave of absence should not exceed two semesters, but the protection periods under the Maternity Protection Act will not be taken into account.

Please make an informal, written application to the Admissions Office and provide proof of the reason for your leave of absence (e.g. through your pregnancy record or the medical certificate) immediately, but no later than by the end of the semester of leave.

Please note the information on leave of absence provided by the Admissions Office and inform yourself about possible consequences regarding your BAföG grant (Federal Training Assistance Act for students in Germany), child benefit, and your residence permit at the relevant counseling centers (BAföG office, social counseling at the Studierendenwerk Stuttgart, Office for Public Order [de], Law on Aliens and Citizenship Law Stuttgart [de] etc.).

During the protection periods, teaching staff must not demand that the student attend a course. The student is also not obliged to take examinations. However, the student can attend courses and take examinations provided that she has registered for it. Every student has the right to decide whether she wants to make use of the full protection period.

The student can revoke her notification of attending a course or her registration for an exam at any time (also immediately before the start of the examination). This is equivalent to an approved withdrawal from the examination. Deadlines for re-sits and repeats are to be extended accordingly at the request of the students.

The new legal regulations are not yet fully implemented in the current exam regulations of the University of Stuttgart. This particularly applies to the option of taking exams during the protection period after childbirth at the student’s own request. Since the Maternity Protection Act is superior to the exam regulations, the regulations of the Maternity Protection Act take precedence over the exam regulations in these cases.

In other words, contrary to the relevant exam regulation, a student may also take examinations during the protection period after childbirth at her specific request. The new regulations will be included in the exam regulations the next time the exam regulations are changed.

In the evening / during the night (§ 5 subsec. 2 MuSchG)

The university must not allow a pregnant or breastfeeding student to work between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. as part of her university studies. The university may allow the student to attend courses until 10 p.m., if

  1. the student expressly agrees to do so,
  2. participation / attendance is required at that time for study purposes, and,
  3. above all, the pregnant student and her child are not irresponsibly put at risk or in danger when the student is working alone.

The pregnant or breastfeeding student can revoke her declaration of consent at any time, with effect for the future. From 10 p.m., attendance at courses is no longer permitted.

On Sundays and public holidays (§ 6 subsec. 2 MuSchG)

The university must not allow a pregnant or breastfeeding student to work on Sundays and public holidays as part of her university studies. The university may allow the student to attend courses on Sundays and on public holidays, if

  1. the student expressly agrees to do so,
  2. participation / attendance is required at that time for study purposes, and,
  3. each week, the student is granted a day off after an uninterrupted night’s rest of at least eleven hours, and
  4. above all, the pregnant student and her child are not irresponsibly put at risk or in danger when the student is working alone.

The pregnant or breastfeeding student can revoke her declaration of consent at any time, with effect for the future.

The disadvantage compensation referred to in § 9 subsec. 1 sentence 4 of the MuSchG clarifies that the Maternity Protection Act is intended to protect women against discrimination in the workplace / training place and to enable women to continue their university studies during pregnancy, after childbirth, and during the breastfeeding period.

Especially in the case of courses with compulsory attendance, which the student cannot attend (sufficiently) due to her pregnancy / motherhood / lactation, disadvantages due to dates and deadlines, for example if there are no alternative courses offered or there are no available dates to repeat an exam, must be compensated for. As regards study achievements and exams, the student can apply to the head of the relevant examination committee for compensation for disadvantages.

The exam regulations regarding disadvantage compensation for students with disabilities apply accordingly. Compensation for disadvantages can be granted, for example, by giving extra time to finish an exam, by approving different types of exams, or by moving exam dates (e.g. for oral exams).

The measures for the compensation for disadvantages must be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be taken according to the needs of the individual student. The benchmark in the search for compensatory measures to benefit disadvantaged students are examination candidates who are not impaired in this respect. As such, competition among students with regard to their professional qualification is not distorted by the compensatory measures and the principle of equal treatment is observed.

The examination conditions can therefore only be modified to the extent necessary, without allowing that the examination content is simplified in terms of quality. The compensatory measures must not overcompensate for the disadvantage caused by pregnancy and lead to privileges compared to other examination candidates.

The general recommendation for taking semesters of leave, on the other hand, definitely leads to an extension of the length of study and is not an adequate compensation for disadvantages. If you decide to take a semester of leave, please inform yourself about possible consequences regarding your BAföG grant, child benefit, and your residence permit at the relevant counseling centers (BAföG office, social counseling at the Studierendenwerk Stuttgart, Office for Public Order [de], Law on Aliens and Citizenship Law Stuttgart [de] etc.).

Important forms at a glance

Flexible studying

Due to the current situation with coronavirus, university study regulations are being made more flexible. More information about this can be found on our coronavirus web pages. These are being continuously updated.

Students with children or dependent relatives have special needs. For this reason, the exam regulations and the Admissions and Enrollment Regulations of the University of Stuttgart provide comprehensive regulations to make the study program more flexible as a compensation for disadvantages. As a rule, the prerequisite is that the student

  • cares for a child under the age of eight years who lives in the same household and is mostly cared for by the student alone, or
  • cares for (a) close and dependent relative(s) in the sense of the Home Care Leave Act.

Please check the exam regulations of your study program, which are relevant regardless of the following non-binding overview:

Students may apply for a leave of absence for good cause. Making use of protection periods under the Maternity Protection Act, or taking parental leave or family caregiver leave constitutes a good cause.

In the case of maternity protection, the protection periods before and after childbirth as described above under ‘maternity protection’, as well as the medically confirmed prohibition to work (§ 3 (1), § 6 (1) MuSchG) apply.

Students are entitled to parental leave if they look after or mainly provide for their child under three years of age, who lives in the same household and for whom there is a duty of care (§ 15 (1)-(3) Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act). If these six semesters of parental leave have not been used in full, the remaining semesters can still be taken until the child reaches the age of eight, whereby a maximum of four of the semesters not previously taken are possible when the child is between three and eight years of age.

Students who care for a close dependent relative in a home environment can take a leave of absence for family care; the regulations in § 7 (3) PflegeZG (law on family caregiver leave) apply, the Admission and Enrollment Regulations of the university are currently being adjusted accordingly. Please contact the Admissions Office and the care guides for more information.

Students are also entitled to a leave of absence if they look after or mainly provide for their child under five years of age, who lives in the same household and for whom there is a duty of care (parental leave).

Students who are on leave because they take care of their child (parental leave) may take examinations, provided these are not end-of-course exams. Different regulations may apply to individual examinations, so please note the exam regulations that apply to your study program.

Please make an informal, written application to the Admissions Office and provide proof of the reason for your leave of absence (e.g. through your pregnancy record, a birth certificate of your child, a medical certificate, a written confirmation by the long-term care insurance or by the medical service of the health insurance) immediately, but no later than by the end of the semester of leave. Please note the information on leave of absence provided by the Admissions Office and inform yourself about possible consequences regarding your BAföG grant, child benefit, and your residence permit at the relevant counseling centers (BAföG office, social counseling at the Studierendenwerk Stuttgart, Office for Public Order, Law on Aliens and Citizenship Law Stuttgart etc.).

Students with children or dependent relatives have the option to withdraw from examinations, if the child or the dependent relative gets sick.

The Head of the Examination Committee decides on the approval of the withdrawal upon the student's request. Appropriate proof must be provided (e.g. medical certificate).

Students with children or dependent relatives have the option to extend the deadline for their mid-degree and repeat exams up to two semesters.

The Head of the Examination Committee decides on the approval of the extension period upon the student's request.

The options for extending the deadline to finish a thesis (bachelor’s / master’s thesis) are provided in the respective exam regulations.

Individual exam regulations (usually from 2015) provide students with children or dependent relatives with the option to extend the deadline to finish the thesis even beyond the normal extension period. However, these extensions are exceptions that have to be justified, and there is a maximum extension period.

The Head of the Examination Committee decides on the approval of the extension period upon the student's request.

Students who have children or dependent relatives and are enrolled in a study program with a fixed length of study have the option to extend the maximum length of study beyond the maximum number of semesters allowed to complete the study program. The maximum length of study may be extended by a maximum of 6 semesters. When caring for a child, up to 6 semesters are granted per child.

The Head of the Examination Committee decides on the approval of the extension period upon the student's request.

External publications on family matters

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth:

Bundesverband der alleinerziehenden Mütter und Väter e.V.: tips and information for single parents [de]

Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration Baden-Württemberg: pregnant: yes – alcohol: no [de]

Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration Baden-Württemberg:

Ministry for the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg: Glow worms, polar bears and co [de]. – environmental issues for preschool children.

Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration Baden-Württemberg:

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth: Where people of all generations can meet – action program Multigeneration houses II [de]

For information about various types of schools [de], please visit the web page of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports Baden-Württemberg.

Contact

This picture showsInken de Wit
Dipl. oec.

Inken de Wit

Service Uni & Familie

This picture showsXiaoli Lu
Dr. phil.

Xiaoli Lu

Service Uni & Familie

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