Under an employment contract agreed for a fixed term under art. 2 para. 1 of the German law regulating fixed-term contracts for academic staff at higher education institutions (WissZeitVG), both the term of the contract and the available qualifying period are extended by the time of parental leave taken. The parental leave is not imputed to the employment contract but to the qualifying period.
Under art. 2 para. 5 subs. 3 WissZeitVG, the term of contract still outstanding at the time of taking parental leave is appended to the regular term of contract on return to work from parental leave. This arrangement is strictly subject to the consent of the employee, however, and will only enter into force if the employer receives an informal request from the employee to extend the contract. In such cases the contract will not expire during the period of parental leave but will remain in force unchanged until the end of the extension period.
Externally funded posts
There are very different arrangements for staff on externally funded posts which run for a fixed term pursuant to art. 2 para. 2 WissZeitVG as well as for staff employed under the German law on part-time work and temporary employment (TzBfG). The employment contract is not extended by maternity leave or by parental (part-time) leave because art. 2 para. 5 subs. 3 WissZeitVG only applies to the staff employed on fixed-term contracts pursuant to paragraph 1.
However, solutions can be found in these cases by arrangement with the employer or funder, if, for example, funding is applied for when applying for the project and if provision is already made at this stage by the employer or funder. On this basis, project staff employed on fixed-term contracts under art. 2 para. 2 WissZeitVG or TzBfG could be offered an extension of contract on a voluntary basis even if they have no statutory right to an extension.
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