Contract extensions due to times of absence according to the WissZeitVG (law on temporary employment in higher education)


Academic staff with temporary employment contracts according to § 2 para. 1 WissZeitVG, so-called Temporary Qualification, are eligible to an extension of their contract (§ 2 para. 5 WissZeitVG) to make up for times of absence. In consensus with the employee, the length of the temporary employment contract is extended in the following five cases:

  1. In case of academic leave or reduction of work hours to the extent of at least one fifth of the regular work hours which was granted for the purpose of caring for one or more children under 18 years Elternzeit (parental leave); § 15 Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz, BEEG (law on federal parental benefit and parental leave) or family members in need of care.

  2. Times of leave for academic work or any type of academic or vocational qualification outside the higher education sector or overseas.

  3. Times of Elternzeit according to the BEEG and times of employment prohibition according to the Mutterschutzgesetz (law on maternity leave) to the extent to which the employee was not engaged in employment activities.

  4. Times of leave of absence to the extent of at least one fifth of the regular work hours for the execution of tasks in the capacity of a staff representative or a representative for severely disabled employees, of tasks in the capacity of a gender equality officer or for the execution of a mandate that is reconcilable with the employment contract.

  5. Times of inability to work due to sickness during which the employee was not entitled to continued remuneration based on law or the respective collective agreement.

In scenarios 1, 2 and 4, the extension should not exceed two years. The times in scenarios 1 and 5 are not added to the legally permitted time limit (according to § 2 para. 1 WissZeitVG) to the extent that they can lead to an extension of the employment contract.

The extension due to times of absence is granted by law without requiring a new employment contract. All that is required is the employee's consent. This can be declared verbally also. It is, however, recommended to provide a declaration of consent in writing.

An example for contract extensions according to § 2 para. 1 WissZeitVG:


Temporary employment contract from 1 October 2013 till 30 September 2016 with an employment volume of 90%, reason for time limitation: Temporary Qualification (§ 2 para. 1 WissZeitVG). The maternity protection period starts 24 March 2016 (estimated date of birth is 5 May 2016), actual birth is on 30 March 2016 (preterm birth), end of maternity protection period is 28 July 2016, parental leave from 29 July 2016 till 29 March 2017. Beginning of employment is 30 March 2017 with an employment volume of 65%.


Determination of contract extension:

For the period from 24 March 2016 till 30 September 2016, the time of absence to be made up equals 191 days with an employment volume of 90%. A return to work on 30 March 2017 at an employment volume of 65% results in 244 days extension (+ 53 days). The employment contract would therefore end on 28 November 2017.
The length of the extension period is based on the total of the days of absence up to the end of the employment contract. This means that the amount of time by which the work hours were reduced can be 'added' at the end if they were equivalent to at least one fifth or more of the regular work hours.

In early December 2016, the employee successfully applies for a three-month extension of her parental leave from 30 March 2017 till 29 June 2017. With a return to work on 30 June 2017, the contract would therefore be extended until 28 February 2018.
The extension option is only reduced by the actual further employment opportunity, with the consequence that ongoing or new times of absence according to § 2 para. 5 WissZeitVG defer the time of complete reduction of the arisen extension option respectively.

New legislation:
BAG – 7 AZR 456/12 from 28 May 2014
LAG Mecklenburg-West Pomerania 2 SA 384/15 from 15 November 2016

The HR departments, the Family Service and the Staff Council offer specific advice and consultations.