Maternity Leave for Students

The Maternity Leave Act has applied to female students too since 1 January 2018, if the time, place or progression of an educational unit are prescribed as compulsory or they have to complete an internship as part of their university education. Maternal leave must be granted to pregnant women and breast-feeding students as a matter of principle and without them having to apply for it.

This specifically means the following for pregnant or breast-feeding students:

  • A relative ban on examinations exists during any period of maternal leave. Female students have the right not to take any examinations during the period six weeks before and eight weeks after the birth. They also have the right to gain exemption from units of instruction that they must attend, excursions or laboratory and internship activities.
  • Female students can, however, take part in examinations or units of instruction during any period of maternal leave if they specifically wish to. They need to declare their intention in writing to the examining committee. This question is automatically asked during any registration for an examination in the electronic examination management system. This declaration can be revoked at any time.
  • Female students also have a right to measures to compensate for any detrimental effects during a pregnancy (for example, alternative work during laboratory courses).
  • Female students have the right to take time off for any medical examinations connected to the pregnancy and to breast-feeding their child during the pregnancy and during the nursing period (the first 12 months after the birth).

In their own interest, pregnant students should inform the university about their pregnancy so that they can make use of the protective rights offered by the Maternity Leave Act and the university can adopt the relevant protective measures.

The information should be sent unofficially (e.g. by e-mail) to the examining committee that is responsible for the course. It is necessary to specify the probable date of the birth so that the period of maternity leave can be calculated (ideally you should send a copy of your pregnancy record book). The examining committee may request further evidence (confirmation from a doctor or midwife).

The student then receives a message from her examining committee about the beginning and end of the period of protection, information about maternity leave and an assessment sheet to identify any risks (including a progress chart).

Once the examining committee has been informed about a pregnancy, the student then receives an assessment sheet to identify any risks. The assessment sheet is used to determine whether the pregnant woman may be exposed to any influences that pose a risk to health during her studies and whether any protective measures need to be adopted during the pregnancy and breast-feeding period (e.g. to compensate for any detrimental effects).

The assessment sheet must be completed by the student together with the head of the internship/laboratory or seminar to cover any unit of instruction that could potentially pose a risk (this particularly refers to courses in the sciences and technology or sports).
Within arts, cultural or social sciences courses, where the risk of hazards is low, it is sufficient to complete the risk assessment with one member of the examining committee for the complete course.

The examinations office evaluates the risk assessment. If all the questions have been answered with “No”, there are no special dangers. The student can continue her course without any restrictions.

If one or more questions have been answered with “Yes”, the examining committee normally has to compensate for any detrimental effects (provide alternative work) so that the student can continue her course. If further advice is necessary regarding the questions answered with “Yes”, the health and safety and environmental protection group or the university’s physician can be called on to assist.

  • Please contact the Responsible examinations office directly to provide notification about your pregnancy or with specific questions about units of instruction/examinations
  • You can find information in the Studying with a child section on issues related to financial support (parental allowances, child benefit, maternity benefit, BAföG), on combining the course and family life as well as for pregnant women in difficult situations.
  • Please consult the Health and safety and environment protection group in the building department on assessing risks and health and safety
  • Consult the Coordination of examination administration section for general questions related to the issue of examinations