Can an Employee in Germany be let off while in parental leave?
German labour law is very protective of employees. Every business with more than 10 full time employees on the payroll must be aware of the specific German employee protention rules (Kündigungsschutzgesetz). For details see this post:
Special protection of employees during parental leave
Regardless of the number of employees, there are additional special German laws protecting all parents who are on parental leave and even for a period thereafter. Section 18 BEEG (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz, BEEG, i.e, German Federal Parental Leave and Parental Remuneration Act, wording see here: https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/beeg/BJNR274810006.html) stipulates that any termination of an employment agreement during perantal leave is void UNLESS the employer has obtained the official priot consent by the local government authority.
This exceptional prior consent (Ausnahmegenehmigung) will only be granted in – well – exceptional circumstances, for example if the employer can prove that they close down the business site or even the entire business and that there is therefore no alternative option to employ the person who is terminated.
The details are complex and it usually takes many weeks or even months to obtain this exception prior consent from the local government authority. If an employer in Germany needs to terminate employees who are on parental leave, this should be dealt with early on, otherwise the employer runs the risk of having to pay wages for many months during which the business site no longer exists.
For further information on German labour law and employment agreements see here or contact me at +49 941 785 3053