According to § 45 Fifth German Social Security Code, parents who are temporarily unable to work due to the need to care for their sick child are entitled to unpaid leave from work. Subject to deviating collective or individual legal agreements, employers are therefore not financially burdened by the granting of child sick days, as the entitlement to remuneration is suspended for the period of leave. The entitlement to remuneration is replaced by an entitlement to children’s sick pay, which is to be paid by the statutory health insurance.
In principle, the entitlement to child sick pay or days is for a period of 10 working days per child and parent or 20 working days for single parents. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scope of entitlement was initially doubled and then tripled for a limited period of time. However, this special regulation expires at the end of the year, meaning that from January 1, 2024, only the original, significantly reduced entitlement would remain. The planned amendment to the law therefore now provides for the scope of entitlement to be increased to 15 working days per child and parent or 30 working days for single parents.
Another significant change is also planned with regard to the obligation to provide evidence. The prerequisite for entitlement to child sickness benefit is that the child’s need for care due to illness is proven by a “medical certificate”. Unlike in the case of a personal illness, where in the statutory standard case the certificate of incapacity for work must only be available from the fourth day, a corresponding certificate is required from the very first day when claiming child sickness benefit. As the debtor of the entitlement to child sickness benefit, the addressee of the “medical certificate” is primarily the health insurance fund to which the claim is made. However, upon request, the employer must also be provided with a corresponding medical certificate stating the child’s illness, the resulting need for care and the (expected) duration of the illness. Irrespective of this, the employer must be informed immediately of the reason for and expected duration of the absence from work.
However, the amendment to the law is now intended to bring about an alignment with the system of the German Continued Remuneration Act, so that in future, parents of sick children will also only have to obtain a corresponding medical certificate from the fourth “child sickness day”. For shorter illnesses, the obligation to obtain a certificate will therefore no longer apply.
The bill must now pass the Bundesrat (upper house of the German parliament). The German Federal Ministry of Health currently assumes that the changes will come into force as planned on January 1 of next year and can therefore be seamlessly linked to the special regulations that expire on December 31, 2023.
We will of course keep you up to date on further developments.