Germany has an elaborate social security system that provides for it's citizens. It covers the sick, disabled, and families.
The countries in the European Union and European Economic Area has an agreement to ensure international employees retain their social security rights and benefits. The provisions ensure that no employee is disadvantaged because he worked in several Member States during the course of his working life. Social insurance contributions should not be lost, rights which have been acquired should be protected, and each country should pay the pension which corresponds to the insurance periods spent there.
Employed people must make payments that is directly deducted from their salary. These payments are usually about 40 percent of an employees gross income, but the employer shares the cost so the employee is only responsible for 20 percent. Usually the contribution is shared equally, but an employee can possibly bargain for the employer to pay a higher percentage. There is a limit of up to 5,500 in the former West Germany and 4,650 in the former East Germany.
Sickness Insurance prevents an employee from financial ruin if they fall ill, or need medical care. In the event of incapacity for work on account of the same illness, employees have a statutory entitlement to continued payment by their employer for six weeks. The insurance applies to the spouse and children of the insured person. Between 12-15 percent of income is usually spent on health insurance.
Care insurance provides protection against long-term care. This is generally for any period of more than six months, and assistance to perform everyday tasks. A fixed contribution rate of 1.7 percent applies in relation to care insurance.
German law is very generous when it comes to maternity and paternity leave. Mothers are allowed six weeks leave at full pay prior to the child's birth, and eight weeks at full pay after the birth. In the case of a multiple births, 12 weeks paid leave is allowed after the birth.
Parental leave allows employees to leave work, or work part-time, so that they are able to devote themselves to their child and keep their job. If they do not work at all, pay will be suspended but their position is reserved. It is available until the child reaches the age of three. Complete information and government links are available Elterngeld.
Kindergeld, or "children's money", is an allowance from the German government to help defray some of the cost of raising children. It is between 184 to 215 euro per child, per month. The minimum payment of 184 euro per month is available for each of the first two children, 190 euro for the third child, and 215 euro for each subsequent child.
The qualifications are fairly broad, and most people with children are eligible, whether employed or self-employed. Adopted and foster children qualify you for the Kindergeld, as do children of your spouse and your grandchildren if they live in your household. People living abroad can also get it if they have an unrestricted obligation to pay German income taxes. It is received until a child turns 18, though it can continue until they are 25 if they are still in school. However, if a child has an income of more than 8,004 per year through a trust fund, employment, etc. the parents is not entitled to Kindergeld.
Kindergeld can be applied for at the local labor office (Arbeitsamt). A downloadable copy of the application is available here.
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