German Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act (WissZeitVG)

The act governing fixed-term employment contracts in academia (WissZeitVG) makes it possible to limit the duration of employment contracts for academic staff (in both the sciences and the arts) beyond the restrictions of the German Law on Part-Time Work and Fixed-Term Contracts (TzBfG).

Fixed-term employment contracts with academics in the qualification phases (§ 2, Para. 1 of the WissZeitVG) require that the fixed-term employment promotes and helps fund the relevant academic qualification pursued (in either the sciences or the arts). The employment contract term must be calculated appropriate to the desired qualification (see also the Agreement on good employment conditions).

The qualification pursued may be a doctorate, post doctorate or another further education goal in academia, while the employment contract term must befit the relevant qualification objective.

The employment contract term for those academic staff predominately financed by external funds (§ 2, Para. 2 of the WissZeitVG) should match the approved project period.

When applying to request the employment of academic staff and research assistants (WHK) or to extend an employment contract, the specific qualification objective must be stated by the relevant supervisor.

§ 2 of the WissZeitVG distinguishes between the phase before the completion of a doctorate and the time after completion of a doctorate.

Research assistants who do not hold a doctorate may be employed for a period of up to six years.

After completion of a doctorate, they may be employed for a further 6 years of fixed-term employment.

This period will be extended to the extent in which the time periods of fixed-term employment in accordance with § 2, Para. 1 (1) (prior to the completion of the doctorate) and doctoral degree studies without employment or without eligible employment together total less than six years (“bonus period”).

All fixed-term employment relationships (including contracts financed by external funds) exceeding one fourth of a regular employment contract at a German university or state-funded or predominantly state-funded research institution within the meaning of § 5 of the WissZeitVG, as well as corresponding employment relationships for civil servants with fixed-term contracts and private employment contracts pursuant to § 3 of the WissZeitVG must be taken into account in this six-year period of employment. Fixed-term employment contracts concluded under other laws will also be taken into account.

The possibility of extending the employment relationship results from the reasons set out in § 2, Para. 1 of the WissZeitVG and the entitlement to an extension of a fixed-term employment relationship results from the reasons set out in § 2, Para. 5 of the WissZeitVG.

If you have any questions relating to the legal issues surrounding fixed-term employment, please contact your responsible HR representative.


Additional information on application of the German Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act (WissZeitVG)

Additional information on application of the German Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act (WissZeitVG), taking into account pandemic related pressures on academic staff

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research