About the new Maternity Protection Act

Dear female students,

On January 1, 2018, a newly amended version of Germany’s Maternity Protection Act (MuSchuG) entered into force. Previously, the protections of this law did not explicitly extend to female students. Now, however, all female students enrolled at a university in Germany enjoy the same legal protections before and after pregnancy as women in the workplace. These include protected periods of leave (six weeks before the due date and eight weeks after birth), as well as an entitlement to compensatory measures should exams occur during this time period.

Informing HSRW of your pregnancy

In order to take advantage of these legal protections, you must first officially inform the University of your pregnancy (refer to §15 MuSchuG). The University cannot compel you, but it’s highly recommended you do this in a timely manner so that we can sit down with you to explain your full legal rights before and after your pregnancy and mitigate any potential study-related risks you may face.

Risk assessments and compensatory measures

Some of your modules my pose potential health risks to you or your baby, for example labs in technical or scientific degree programmes, or strenuous physical activity with young children in Early Childhood Education B.A.  Accordingly, Rhine-Waal University is obligated by law to assess your degree programme for potential risks to pregnancies and breastfeeding periods and adhere to any recommendations (refer to § 10 MuShuG).

In Germany, the maternity leave includes a buffer period before and after birth (6 and 8 weeks, respectively) as well as the right to compensatory measures for exams scheduled during these times. Section 6 (4) of the General Examination Regulations (RPO) stipulates that examination procedures must allow for maternity leave according to applicable German law. (This protection also extends to leaves of absence to care for immediate family which conflict with exams.) As a rule, taking advantage of these protections requires a written request to your Examination Board. More information can be found (in German) in § 64 (2) and § 64 (2a) of the Higher Education Act of North Rhine-Westphalia (HG NRW).

We strongly advise you to speak with your examiner(s) to find an individual solution for your situation and discuss the possibility of alternative exam arrangements. Note, however, that ultimately there is no legal entitlement to alternative exam arrangements. Nonetheless, an open dialogue between students, Examination Board and examiner ensures that  suitable compromise that is fair for all parties can be found.

We are here to inform you and help you plan the next steps. Please contact us for more information and guidance on regulations affecting you and on available advising and support services at the University and elsewhere.


Please contact the following person in your faculty to notify the University of your pregnancy:

Technology and Bionics

Elena Buksmann (Study Guide)

Life Sciences

Lena Völkel (Study Guide)

Society and Economics

Anthony Efonemchi (Study Guide)

Communication and Environment

Elena Buksmann (Study Guide)

Disclosing your information to others

We will inform you immediately and transparently if, why and to whom at the University we need to inform of your pregnancy (for example: Examination Service, your faculty’s Examination Board, laboratory managers etc.)

Note that the Maternity Protection Act also requires us to forward information about you and your pregnancy to the responsible regulatory authorities, in this case the Düsseldorf District Government (see §27 MuSchuG).

Full legal text and information pamphlet

The University is also required by law to make the full text of the Maternity Leave Act available to you (see §26 MuSchuG). The full text can be downloaded at the following link: Gesetz zur Neuregelung des Mutterschutzrechts (available in German only).

Key provisions, as well as many useful tips and other information, are outlined in the pamphlet “Leitfaden zum Mutterschutz” (Guide to Maternity Leave) published by the Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, which can be found here: Leitfaden zum Mutterschutz (available in German only) For a brieve description of the regulations in English see 

The current Higher Education Act of North Rhine-Westphalia can be found here (available in German only)

General questions

For general questions regarding the new Maternity Protection Act and/or its implementation, please contact:

Dr. Rebecca Müller (Study Guides Coordinator)