Logo: Förderung der Chancengleichheit in der Wissenschaft

Compensation for Absence or Part-Time Work of Project Staff

In all funding programmes, the DFG offers young women and men the opportunity to further their research qualifications by collaborating on projects.

The DFG welcomes the fact that female early career researchers are especially active in applying for the positions that it funds, and supports them in balancing research training with starting a family.

To permit a balance between the project leader’s justified interest in the efficient completion of a planned research project and an early career researcher’s personal decision to start a family, the DFG enables project leaders to fund a replacement to take over the researcher’s duties for the duration of the pregnancy or parental leave during which she is not working on the project. The same naturally applies should a male member of the project team temporarily interrupt his work on the project for parental leave. The upper limit for the salary classification of the replacement is the post approved for the academic member of staff who is leaving due to maternity leave or parental leave.

If the replacement is to take the place of an academic staff member whose employment has ended on the basis of Section 2 Para. 1 of the Temporary Employment Contracts in Research Act (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz or WissZeitVG), the project leader may request funding for additional staff during the period of absence to enable research work to continue without interruption. An informal application should be submitted to the DFG before the period of absence begins (Financial Grant Management department, fin2@dfg.de). In the application, the project leader should state: the original contract periods of the absent staff member, the period in which the staff member will be unavailable due to maternity leave or parental leave, and the reasons why a replacement is needed.

The duration of the employment contract of the absent staff member will be extended, with their consent, by the amount of time for which they were absent from work (see Section 2 Para. 5 No. 3, WissZeitVG). The employment contract may only be extended with the agreement of the employee.

In the case of a temporary contract on the basis of Section 2 Para. 2 WissZeitVG, the replacement may be funded using the staff funds that become available as a result of the staff member’s absence.

The DFG assumes that the project leader will first consult with the parent to decide what work will be carried out by the replacement during their absence and how the mother or father will be given the opportunity to continue or complete their personal academic training in addition to collaborating on the project after their return to work. The DFG particularly welcomes some form of confirmation in the informal proposal that such a discussion has taken place and that a distribution of tasks that suits all involved has been agreed on.

For details, please refer to the DFG forms below:

To motivate research staff to return to work on an ongoing project as soon as possible after the birth of a child, there is the option of part-time work. If necessary, funds can be requested for a replacement to carry out the rest of the work. The process for requesting funds for a partial replacement due to academic or artistic staff going on maternity leave or parental leave is exactly the same as that for requesting funds for a full-time replacement.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to arrange a cost-neutral extension or an interruption of the project when a member of the research staff is absent for family reasons. In most cases, a cost-neutral extension is preferable to putting the project completely on hold. A proposal to this effect, stating the period of the extension or interruption, must be submitted by the project leader to the relevant DFG department with a brief explanation.

These measures are often suitable for shorter family-related absences, when the project leader would prefer to wait for the staff member in question to return to work rather than recruiting a replacement and integrating them into the project. The project must also be designed such that a cost-neutral extension or interruption is feasible as a general rule. Particularly in research networks, putting a project on hold or extending it without generating additional costs may be problematic because the project in question was initiated as part of a network involving other projects and needs to be concluded at the same time (for instance in the case of Collaborative Research Centres, Priority Programmes, Research Units and Clinical Research Units).

Where a project is funded as part of a Collaborative Research Centre, DFG Research Centre, Cluster of Excellence, Research Training Group or Graduate School, the resources necessary to fund a replacement can generally be sourced from the funds already awarded to the research network by the DFG.

The project leader or individual in question should therefore consult with the leader of the research network in the first instance to find out whether such additional funding is available. If the employee acquires a statutory entitlement to employment beyond the funding duration of the project, it is possible to apply for additional funds to cover this. In this case, the spokespersons for research networks are asked to contact the consultants responsible for their project. These arrangements do not apply to Clusters of Excellence or Graduate Schools. In these cases, costs arising after the end of funding due to contract extensions, e.g. because of parental leave, cannot be acknowledged by the DFG.