Germany: Parents Can Claim Lost Earnings Due to Lack of Municipal Childcare, German Court Rules

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By Andrea Barbara Schuessler

Oct. 27 –Parents can file an action against communities and claim lost earnings due to a lack of childcare facilities, Germany's Federal Supreme Court ruled Oct. 20 (Bundesgerichtshof BGH, III ZR 278/15, 302/15 and 303/15, ruling of Oct. 20, 2016).

The claimants, three women in the German city of Leipzig, argued that they could not take up full-time employment after a year of parental leave because of lack of childcare facilities in their city. The claimants had registered for places in childcare a few months after their children were born.

In Germany, there has been a legal entitlement to childcare from age 1 since Aug. 1, 2013. The legislation was intended to make it easier for employees to return to full-time positions and to facilitate more employment of women, while helping employers secure skilled labor and countering the country's skills shortage. Communities and cities are responsible for most expenses for state childcare facilities.

The three women claimed amounts of 2,182.20 euros ($2,001), 4,463.12 euros ($4,093) and 7,332.93 euros ($6,725) for lost earnings because they had to delay the start of full-time employment.

Germany's Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof BGH) based in Karlsruhe has transferred the case to the Higher Regional Court in Dresden (Oberlandesgericht OLG Dresden) for further inquiry into whether the city of Leipzig can be charged in the case or if there are extenuating circumstances.

For example, it is possible that Leipzig could not find enough qualified childcare workers or that building projects could not be finished in time to provide enough childcare facilities, the Court said, cautioning, however, that Leipzig cannot rely solely on the argument of financial constraint.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Barbara Schuessler in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at

For More Information

Full text of the ruling will be available in German on the court's website


For more information on German HR law and regulation, see the Germany primer.

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