Schools closed: Are parents in Germany allowed to stay home?

Schools closed: Are parents in Germany allowed to stay home?

Schools closed: Are parents in Germany allowed to stay home?

In order to curb the further spread of coronavirus, schools across Germany are closing. That leaves working parents in a bit of a bind. Are they allowed to stay home from work in order to take care of their children? Your questions answered. 

What can parents do if their children are off school?

As the coronavirus outbreak worsens, childcare centres and primary and secondary schools in all parts of Germany are closing their doors, initially until the beginning of the school holidays at Easter. 

While this measure is certainly necessary to keep the spread of the virus in check, it raises a few questions for parents who are working in Germany: Who will take care of their children while they are at the office? If no one is available, are they allowed to stay home?

Can parents stay home when schools or Kitas are closed?

There is currently no official jurisdiction on this matter in the case of coronavirus, since the outbreak is so recent. However, there are some guidelines in the German Civil Code which can apply to the current situation.

Parents are allowed to stay home to look after their children in exceptional cases. In principle, parents are obliged to go to work. It is their responsibility to find childcare for their children, and, if they can’t - and their company does not offer the possibility of working from home - they must take holiday leave.

However, under certain conditions, it is possible for parents to stay home for a short time, and to continue to receive their salary. If all other childcare options are unavailable and your vacation days have already been used up, you may stay home. 

The basis for this is Section 616 of the Civil Code. For it to apply, parents must have exhausted all other childcare options. A practical problem thrown up by the recent outbreak is the fact that the federal government has warned against contact between grandparents (who are often a fallback childcare option) and grandchildren. This is because older people are considered a risk group for coronavirus. 

If you cannot find any childcare, you are allowed to stay home for a few days and continue to receive wages. However, it is important to note that this is, by no means, considered a permanent solution, and you must always discuss it with your employer first. 

Note, also, that this paragraph is excluded in some employment contracts. If this is the case for you, you do not have this entitlement and will be forced to take unpaid leave.

Can I take my child to work?

In theory, it’s possible, but you have no right to this, so it would only be possible in consultation with your employer. In light of the current situation, however, many bosses would be quick to point out that social contacts should be avoided as much as possible. 

Do parents have to send their kids to school despite the spread of coronavirus?

If your child’s school has not been officially closed, compulsory schooling continues. Parents cannot simply keep their child at home because they are worried about them contracting coronavirus. 

This does not apply to daycare centres. Before the age of six, parents can choose whether or not to send their children to educational facilities. 

Otherwise, children are only allowed to stay at home if they are ill. If their parents fail to send them to school, they risk incurring a fine and - with frequent violations - custody restrictions. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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