Navigation and service

FAQs about reconciling work and family life during the Covid-19 pandemic

Reconciling work and family life continues to be a great challenge that can be unsettling and can raise many questions. That is why the Equal Opportunities Bureau (BfC) has compiled some FAQs to support you in reconciling work and family life even during basic operations. You can still contact us at the Equal Opportunities Bureau as usual for the full range of advisory services.

Contact:

Margaretha Wirtz
Sozialarbeiterin
Phone: +49 2461 61-2624
email: mar.wirtz@fz-juelich.de
When am I allowed to claim leave from work to provide care for my children and family members? (Update 11/01/2021)

Parents can claim leave from work, if

  • school or company holidays are mandated or extended due to infection protection.
  • the school lifts compulsory attendance.

If parents have to provide care to children under 12 years of age, they can claim 34 days of paid leave and up to 16 days of unpaid leave if childcare facilities such as schools and daycare centres are closed due to the coronavirus. Closures during the summer holidays and public holidays do not count. Single parents can obtain a paid exemption from work for up to 67 days.

If you have to provide care for close family members in need of care and care facilities are closed due to the coronavirus, you can claim up to 20 days of paid leave.

Furthermore, alternative care arrangements, for example provided by other family members, must have been ruled out.

For the first 34 days, 100% of the loss of earnings is reimbursed. As the additional 16 days are not compensated, the total possible reimbursement amounts to 67%, up to a maximum of 2016 euros per month. These regulations are valid until 31 March 2021.

Requirements:

  • Due to occupational or personal issues employees can't make use of ad hoc teleworking.
  • Any overtime hours must be reduced to half a day before the leave from work can be granted.
  • Supporting documentation, clearly indicating the closure time or quarantine, must be attached to the application.

Employees’ annual leave accounts do not play a role in this context, as they are intended for recreation.

Application for leave from work to care for children due to the coronavirus 

Application for leave from work to care for close family members in need of care due to the coronavirus

Rules on the calculation of allowance for leave of absence (BMI circular 08/12/2020)

Rules on the current developments regarding the coronavirus (BMI circular 21/12/2020)

Additional "child-sick days" possible from January 2021!
  • Parents with statutory health insurance can claim 20 instead of 10 days of child sickness benefit per child and parent, and a maximum of 45 days for parents with more than one child.
  • For single parents, the entitlement increases by 20 to 40 days per child and parent, and to a maximum of 90 days for parents with more than one child.

Entitlement also exists if a child has to be cared for at home because schools or childcare centres are closed, compulsory attendance at school has been lifted or access to childcare services at the childcare centre has been restricted. Parents can also apply for child sickness benefit if they could use ad hoc teleworking.

This new regulation applies retroactively from 5 January 2021.


For more information, see the press release of the Federal Ministry of Health (German).

Where can I find support services for childcare at home?

School or daycare closures often result in a childcare shortage. It is often difficult to organise emergency childcare at short notice. For employees of Forschungszentrum Jülich (and all its branches), various aids and alternatives are available for this purpose:

  • The Viva FamilyService continues to offer support via the usual communication channels. Furthermore, the offer has been expanded to include individual 1:1 online care. At the parents' request, both virtual care and virtual tutoring for older siblings can be arranged. In addition, there are helpful tips on how to reconcile children and home office (German).
  • Voiio continues to offer virtual and also offline childcare services. In addition to virtual events, it is also possible to book a wide range of "real" holiday and emergency holiday care. This offer is aimed at children from the age of 4.

Both service providers also promise to personally support parents with individual concerns.

In order to further relieve the financial burden on families, the federal government is striving for additional measures:
  • The requirements for the child benefit bonus (205 euros/month since 1 January 2021) have been relaxed so that more families are eligible.
  • Child benefit will increase by a further 15 euros per child from January 2021. Thus, families with one or two children will receive 219 euros per child. For the third child 225 euros and from the fourth child 250 euros. At the same time, the child allowance will increase by over 500 euros to a total of 8,388 euros.
  • Furthermore, the advance support payment for children of single parents will be increased by up to 174 euros.

Information of the Federal Employment Agency on the child benefit supplement (German)

Information of the Federal Government on the increase of the child allowance

Federal government information tool (German) to find out which family benefits or assistance you or your family are likely to be entitled to.

Corona and children - What if my child needs to stay at home? (Time off work in case of quarantine of children)

For working parents, secure and reliable childcare is essential right now, but not always a certainty: Daycare centres are quarantined or the child has to stay home due to cold symptoms. But what exactly does that mean for parents? How can home office and childcare be reconciled? Are there alternatives?

The BfC is aware of these concerns and therefore wants to support parents during this challenging time.

More information on Corona and children

In addition, since 03.12.2020 it has been possible for parents to apply for Corona-related time off work even if they are not allowed to enter the childcare facility or if their children are quarantined.

However, the same conditions apply as for the exemption on the occasion of day-care centre and school closures during the pandemic.

Further information can be found in the BMI circular (German).

Can I as a senior employee approve paid leave from work for an employee, even when there is the option of ad hoc teleworking?

Even when ad hoc teleworking is possible in theory, reviewing the individual circumstances may show that it is not in fact possible in practice. Every department is responsible for implementing ad hoc teleworking for its employees, which means that yes, this can be approved, since it is not unusual in the current exceptional circumstances for employees not to be able to adequately arrange homeschooling and childcare while working from home. Leave from work might relieve a huge burden in this case.

Can I also apply for one day of leave at a time?

Yes, you do not have to claim all 20 days of paid leave together. You can also apply for just one day at a time. Taking half a day’s leave of absence is also allowed.

Can I claim for loss of earnings?

It was announced in a circular dated 7 April 2020 that it will soon be possible for federal TVöD employees to be reimbursed for loss of earnings, for example caused by temporary reductions in working hours or similar circumstances, for the purpose of childcare as a result of school and daycare centre closures. This is in reference to the regulation regarding entitlement to reimbursement according to Section 56(1a) of the German Infection Protection Act (IfSG). If any more information comes to light, we will be sure to keep you up to date.

Rules on the calculation of allowance for leave of absence for TVöD employees

Am I entitled to emergency childcare?

All employees who perform essential work are entitled to emergency childcare places. You can find an up-to-date list of all eligible professions at the link below.

Questions and answers regarding a prohibition on accessing childcare facilities and childcare for key workers (German)

Who at Forschungszentrum Jülich decides whether an employee’s job counts as essential work?

Certification of essential work for the purposes of emergency childcare is generally issued by P-B following examination of the individual occupation. Along with the certification on the official form, P-B can also certify that a person is indispensable from the employer’s point of view. Some daycare facilities and schools accept this if not all their emergency childcare places have been taken. As a general rule, employment at Forschungszentrum Jülich is in and of itself not enough to qualify as essential work.

Can I as an employee of Forschungszentrum Jülich get temporary emergency childcare from the Kleine Füchse daycare centre?

No, the same rules apply to the Kleine Füchse daycare centre on the Jülich campus as to all the other childcare facilities in North Rhine-Westphalia. It provides childcare only to children who have at least one parent in essential work and who ordinarily attend this daycare centre.

I am currently working more (or less) than I normally do. Does this change in my average working hours affect my parental allowance?

No, a new parental allowance reform adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic was adopted in May 2020 and it stipulates that changes in income have no impact on the amount of a recipient’s parental allowance. For example, months with reduced working hours or lost income triggered by the pandemic are generally excluded for the assessment period. In addition, contributions for the partnership bonus are neither reduced nor required to be repaid in the event that average weekly working hours are not reached because of an increased or decreased presence at work due to COVID-19.

If (soon-to-be) parents are not currently able to claim their monthly parental allowance because of their essential work, they can postpone claiming the monthly parental allowance until June 2021 (even beyond the 14th month of the child’s life).

All the regulations apply retroactively from March 2020 and expire on 31/03/2021.

Further information on the 2020 parental allowance

Are there rules adapted to the pandemic regarding support for providing care to family members?

Yes, there have been recent updates to allow work and care to be better reconciled. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, employees who must provide care to relatives are able, until 31/03/2021, to receive a carer’s grant for up to 20 days in place of their salary.

Another update has been made regarding short-term absence from work. Previously, employees have had the option to take up to 10 days off work in the event that an urgent caregiving situation arises. The new regulation allows for up to 20 days to be claimed.

It is also possible, due to the current situation, for caregiver leave and family caregiver leave to be made shorter and more flexible. The period of notice to the employer for family caregiver leave has been reduced to 10 days. In addition, it has been allowed temporarily for an employee to work less than the minimum 15 working hours.

Emergency assistance for employees caring for family members (German)

Can I claim leave from work during the holidays for schools and daycare centres?

The regulations of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) do not permit leave from work if the facility/school is closed due to school holidays or planned closures.

Should the facility/school provide childcare places during the school holidays, for example within the scope of optional after-school care (OGS), leave from work can be granted if this option is cancelled due to COVID-19. This means that employees must present supporting documentation from the facility/school, clearly indicating that the childcare option would have been provided during the school holidays (with exact dates) and that it has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

Single parent or shared custody?

For single parents or parents with shared custody, all these situations can be twice as stressful. Helpful information on this can be found on the website of the Association of Single Mothers and Fathers NRW (VAMV NRW). The Corona crisis hotline for single parents set up by the VAMV NRW can be reached at 0201 82774-799.

Summary of the currently valid circulars regarding the regulations on reconciling work and family life in North Rhine-Westphalia

Information for parents and children about the coronavirus (German)

Financial help and support for families during the coronavirus pandemic (German)

Current information about help and support services (German)