Science Time Contract Act

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Basic data
Title: Law on Fixed-Term Employment Contracts in Science
Short title: Science Time Contract Act
Abbreviation: WissZeitVG
Type: Federal law
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Legal matter: Employment Law
References : 800-28
Issued on: April 12, 2007
( BGBl. I p. 506 )
Entry into force on: April 18, 2007
Last change by: Art. 1 G of 25 May 2020
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1073 )
Effective date of the
last change:
March 1, 2020
(Art. 3 G of May 25, 2020)
GESTA : K007
Weblink: Text of the law
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.

The Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG) enables fixed-term employment contracts for academic and artistic staff in mid-level academic staff, apart from the restrictions of the Part-Time and Temporary Employment Act . This means that the 1999/70 / EC fixed-term directive of June 28, 1999 is implemented for the scientific sector.

Current situation

Academic and artistic staff with academic qualifications can be employed on a fixed-term basis for up to six years for no particular reason. This also includes doctors. After completing a doctorate , another six-year time limit is permitted. In medicine, a maximum period of nine years applies after the doctorate, so that the generally longer qualification period for doctors (to become specialists) should be taken into account. Often one speaks only of the “12-year rule” (and thus omits the exceptional case of the 15-year rule in medicine).

After the changes to the WissZeitVG that came into force in 2016, the qualification aspect will be strengthened. The duration of the time limit must be regulated in such a way that it is appropriate to the set academic qualification goal. Scientific qualification goals are doctorate, habilitation, as well as other scientific goals that are above the qualification level already achieved. The federal states and universities have stipulated minimum shares for their own, qualification-relevant scientific work by scientific staff with their own regulations.

It is disputed whether the time limit according to WissZeitVG is also permissible for ongoing services in teaching or in research coordination if there is no qualifying aspect. For example, on June 1, 2011, the Federal Labor Court decided in a fundamental decision in the case of a teacher for special tasks (here: imparting language skills in the subject Japanese) that the requirement of “membership of academic staff” was not fulfilled. For the assessment of the question of whether the employee belongs to the “scientific staff”, it depends on the individual case. The law applies according to Section 1 (1) does not apply to university professors whose contracts can be limited in accordance with the Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act, as well as to junior professors.

The time limit according to WissZeitVG is also permissible as a third-party funding limit . This means that any number of time limits according to WissZeitVG are possible beyond the “12-year rule” (or “15-year rule” in medicine) if

  • the employment is mainly financed from third party funds and
  • the funding is approved for a specific task and duration, and
  • the employee is predominantly employed for the intended purpose of these funds.

However, since 2015, this basic material limitation (in contrast to the normal qualification limitation according to the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz) can no longer be used for non-scientific and non-artistic accessory staff. The third-party funding limit is only effective if it is stated in the employment contract that it is based on the Science Time Contract Act. There is a quotation requirement. For a long time, it was the rule that with external funding, any number of fixed-term employment contracts of any duration could be connected to one another, without a maximum duration or maximum number. This was put to an end by the BAG in 2012, taking into account higher-ranking EU law.

The term “third-party funding” is not defined in the law. As a third-party funding of the overwhelming opinion, such means are called, which does not belong to the original budget of the university (od. Other research facility), in particular means the EU , the BMBF , those of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and medium private research funding organizations, such as the Volkswagen Foundation . Funds that are awarded by industry for research and development projects also fall under the term “third-party funding”. What is disputed, however, is whether funds from the respective university sponsor are third-party funds within the meaning of the law. This regularly affects program funds from the science ministry of the state that supports the (state) university. The question is of great importance for the assessment of options for fixed-term contracts.

On August 1, 2014, the Giessen Labor Court ruled that funds allocated by an institution in one state to another in the same state were not third-party funds within the meaning of the law. The judgment (Az. 10 Ca 14/14) was successfully attacked by the University of Giessen . The LAG Hessen granted the appeal by judgment of August 5, 2015 (2 Sa 1210/14). The LAG Hessen saw the definition of the WissZeitVG for “third-party funds” as fulfilled not only for the state funds of the so-called “LOEWE” program of the state of Hesse, which are disputed in this procedure . It also decided within the scope of the so-called abuse control that the time limit had been effectively agreed - despite 16 contracts with the university within 11 years. An appeal to the Federal Labor Court was not permitted. The judgment is final.

The Science Time Contract Act also contains family policy components, according to which the maximum period (12-year rule) is extended by two years for each child if one or more children under 18 are cared for. In addition, with the consent of the employee, the employment contract is extended accordingly by periods of leave of absence to look after children or relatives in need of care and when taking parental leave . The employer cannot oppose this; the extension occurs immediately as a legal consequence. However, this extension of the employment contract does not apply to third-party funding.

A special feature is a regulation known colloquially as a collective bargaining block : According to Section 1 Paragraph 1 Clause 3 (with a small exception explicitly formulated in the law), employers and trade unions are not allowed to make any collective bargaining provisions that deviate from the provisions of the law.

The law also applies to state-recognized private universities and the around 750 research institutions described in the 2006 Federal Research Report.

The Science Contract Act also applies to doctors in further training in the field of universities and research institutions; the law on fixed-term employment contracts with doctors in further training does not apply. The European Court of Justice has not yet clarified to what extent the Science Term Contract Act is compatible with the European Directive on fixed-term contracts.

According to the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz, temporary employment as a research assistant before graduation (both Bachelor and Master’s courses) is not counted towards the maximum fixed term .

In 2011, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Hochschul-Informations-System GmbH (HIS) presented the results of an evaluation of the Science Contract Act carried out by HIS on behalf of the BMBF. While BMBF and HIS GmbH spoke in a joint press release of it, the time limitation rules that in science have proven, there were and are other sides repeatedly sharply criticized, for example, in a technical discussion in the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment of the German Bundestag on November 30, 2011 was expressed. Was criticized u. a. the strong increase in the proportion of fixed-term employment relationships in the scientific sector and the high proportion of contract terms of less than a year as well as the collective bargaining and the low effectiveness of the family policy component.

Amendment 2015/2016 and the current legal situation

In the summer of 2015, the federal government introduced an amendment to the WissZeitVG in the Bundestag. Previously, various lobby groups tried to influence the design of the legal text.

A letter from the Alliance of Science Organizations to the then Federal Minister for Education and Research, Johanna Wanka, and selected members of the parliamentary groups should be emphasized . At that time, the Alliance of Science Organizations was chaired by the Max Planck Society under the leadership of Martin Stratmann . The letter to the minister called for a move away from the plans to curb chain time limits. Furthermore, there should be a move away from the plans to exclude non-academic staff from the scope of the WissZeitVG, so that the usual part-time and fixed-term employment law applies to them. The reason for this is the importance of non-academic staff as a bargaining chip in personnel interviews. Finally, the wish was expressed not to make an express agreement on qualification goals. Otherwise, specifying the possible goals would limit the scope for action in the case of the unfounded time limit.

On December 17, 2015, the amendment to the WissZeitVG was passed in the Bundestag, and on January 29, 2016 it passed the Bundesrat. The law came into force on March 17, 2016.

The main changes brought about by the amendment are:

  • the restriction of the non-objective time limit to employees who are employed for their qualification,
  • the abolition of time-limit options under the WissZeitVG in the non-academic area (third-party funding) and
  • the restriction of employment as a student assistant to a maximum of 6 years.

Adjustment 2020 due to the corona pandemic

On April 8, 2020, the federal government decided on a “temporary transitional arrangement” to cushion the consequences of the corona pandemic for temporary academic staff who are in a qualification phase (doctorate, habilitation). Thereafter, the maximum time limits for qualifications will be "extended by six months due to the pandemic". The draft law was passed by the German Bundestag on May 7, 2020 and will come into effect retrospectively from March 1, 2020 when it is published in the Federal Law Gazette.


The Science Term Contract Act is criticized from various sides. For example, the education union for education and science , the Free Union of Student Unions (fzs) and the Conference of Saxon Student Unions have spoken out against the limitation of contracts for student assistants to four years. The topic was also discussed at the 77th Federal Student Council for Electrical Engineering in Emden. Therefore, the maximum length of employment was increased to six years. The opposition in the Bundestag also had doubts about the effective containment of chain time limits through the amendment. A petition submitted by the Verdi union on openPetition in February 2019 under the title “Deadline is Frustration”, which called for more permanent positions at universities, received over 17,000 signatures by October 2019.

Criticism also comes from the employed academic staff, as not enough permanent positions have been created, which means that the deadline regulation in the majority of cases means that academic staff have to give up their positions at universities or in research in the long term.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Directive 99/70 / EC (PDF) of the Council of June 28, 1999 on the ETUC-UNICE-CEEP framework agreement on fixed-term employment contracts.
  2. Bundestag printed matter 16/3438, p. 11.
  3. BMBF Internet editorship: Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz - BMBF. Retrieved February 8, 2020 .
  4. Brandenburg University Act (BbgHG). Retrieved February 8, 2020 .
  5. 7 AZR 827/09
  6. cf. in detail: 7 AZR 443/09 , No. 37 f.
  7. "Thousands of researchers can hope for a temporary extension" , of August 1, 2014
  8. AZ: 2 Sa 1210/14. In: Hessenrecht Landesgerichtungsdatenbank decisions of the Hessian courts. Retrieved January 27, 2018 .
  9. ^ Press release from the State Labor Court of Hesse
  10. Compatibility of family and academic qualifications. A legal advisor. (PDF) Education and Science Union, November 2017, accessed December 2, 2019 . Section "3.1 Extension of contract due to maternity and parental leave for fixed-term contracts", p. 19.
  11. Federal Research Report 2006 ( Memento of December 10, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  12. Ralph Hirdina: Termination of scientific staff unconstitutional and contrary to European law! , NZA 2009, 712 ff.
  13. Law on Fixed-Term Employment Contracts in Science - Information on Understanding and Application ( Memento of June 27, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF file; 42 kB) of April 18, 2007.
  14. Evaluation report (PDF file; 890 kB)
  15. Press release from BMBF and HIS GmbH on the results of the evaluation ( Memento from May 20, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  16. ↑ Technical discussion on the subject of evaluation of the WissZeitVG  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. dated November 30, 2011.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  17. ^ GEW: Evaluation of the WissZeitVG ( Memento from May 12, 2014 in the Internet Archive ).
  18. a b Process flow and documents in the DIP for the First Act to Amend the Science Time Contract Act
  19. Kate Maleike: Interview with Simone Raatz - Temporary contracts in science - "There is still no agreement" . In: Deutschlandfunk . June 10, 2015 ( [accessed October 23, 2017]).
  20. Amory Burchard and Anja Kühne: Universities and non-universities do not want a new law. Der Tagesspiegel, June 9, 2015, accessed on October 23, 2017 .
  21. ^ Martin Stratmann: Letter to the Federal Minister for Education and Research Johanna Wanka. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Alliance of Science Organizations, June 3, 2015, archived from the original on October 23, 2017 ; accessed on October 23, 2017 .
  22. ^ First law to amend the Science Time Contract Act - text and amendments
  23. BMF press release 043/2020 of April 8, 2020.
  24. PDF .
  26. ^ GEW page on the Science Time Act
  27. Statement from fzs ( memo of November 22, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  28. KSS press release of October 26, 2015
  29. ^ Protocol of the Engineers and Society working group at the 77th BuFaTa-ET
  30. ↑ Minutes of the plenary meeting, 146th meeting, p. 142
  31. Deadline is frustration - 2019 deadline pact, petition on openPetition