Logo: Förderung der Chancengleichheit in der Wissenschaft

Measures that Serve to Promote the Compatibility of Research and Family

Various measures can be financed from the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity for persons involved as researchers in DFG projects with the aim of improving the compatibility of academic work and family commitments. However, the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity cannot be used to fund corresponding measures for administrative and technical staff.

Where the state law guarantees such support, the DFG is able to reimburse costs for childcare and care of relatives under its funding programmes, providing such costs are additionally incurred and unavoidable. For reimbursement to be approved,

  • the cost-incurring measure must be directly related to the activity funded by the DFG and there must be no other reimbursement options via third-party sources,
  • the cost of childcare and care of relatives would not have been incurred if there had been no need for the professional development, official trip or training on official business,
  • the regularly used and priority care options are not sufficient or available,
  • the care is necessary and cannot be provided at a lower cost or without additional cost. Care is only deemed to be necessary if it is or would be provided even in the event of an absence for a private reason. Care is not to be provided at a lower cost or at no cost if reasonable and customary alternatives are not cheaper and there is no possibility of resorting to free care, provided by family members for example.

Childcare costs can be reimbursed in the form of a subsidy up to the following maximum rates:

  • per hour in the amount of the applicable statutory minimum wage.
  • care costs for a maximum of 10 hours per 24-hour period.
  • per year in the amount of the non-taxable amount for such benefits (currently €600 per employee, see Section 3 (34a) b) Income Tax Act – EStG).
  • If several children require separate care, the above rates apply to each child. If two or more children receive care together, the rate per hour increases to one and a half times the simple hourly rate (currently €13.26) and the 24-hour rate increases to one and a half times the simple daily rate (currently €132.60). The annual rate remains unchanged. Deviations are possible, in particular in order to adjust to the wage levels in other countries. The 24-hour period is to be counted starting from the time at which costs are incurred, not per calendar day.

The following must be documented on site:

  • When applying for business trips, professional development/training, employees must indicate that care costs will be incurred and specify the estimated amount.
  • In the case of measures directly initiated by the employer, the care costs likely to be incurred must be reported by the employee after receipt of the relevant order.
  • As a rule, documentary evidence of costs incurred is to be submitted in the form of receipts, providing these are available to the employee (e.g. statement issued by the care facility, travel or flight tickets purchased directly by the employee, accommodation costs for the person requiring care shown in an invoice). Declarations by the employee can be accepted in support of the remaining information. On request, evidence is to be submitted that can be provided with reasonable effort.

For both female and male researchers, the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity can be used to finance measures for the short-term care of children (with regard to age, cf. the equal opportunity legislation relevant to the institution). It generally applies that finance is available for additional, unavoidable care costs of max. €600 per year (upper limit in total for short-term care of children and relatives in need of care, see below) when the parents are not available for reasons specific to the project. Furthermore, the requirement is that care is needed that goes beyond any basic care that is customarily available on a local basis and that the care cannot be organised in any other way.

Funding can be provided for childcare during off-peak hours, i.e. outside the usual opening hours of local children’s daycare centres and for childcare for which there are far too few places available. As a benchmark for determining the usual opening hours of local daycare centres, a comparison can be made with the care regularly offered in the municipality in which childcare facilities are to be used. For example, daycare centres frequently offer basic care between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.; in this example, therefore, childcare before 8:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m. could be recognised as being during off-peak hours.

The prohibition of favouritism (Besserstellungsverbot) enshrined in budgetary law must be observed, pursuant to which researchers funded by the DFG may not have any (financial) advantages compared to other researchers employed at the institution or university. Childcare can only be funded by the DFG if the university makes a comparable offer to all of their members involved in research activities.

Also, there must be no direct flow of money to the parents: the measures must be paid for through the universities or the service provider contracted by the university. It is not possible to reimburse amounts invoiced by the childcare provider to the parents, for example. Instead, the appropriate childcare measures have to be handled by the network, the research project or else by a university service provider that offers professional childcare.
As such, the childcare provided must be institutional by nature: for example, it is possible to fund services offered by a university’s internal family centre or (the reservation of) places at daycare centres or holiday childcare. Financing a “private” babysitter is only possible if the babysitter is arranged and paid through a university-based family service or similar.

For Research Training Groups, short-term childcare during RTG events (e.g. kick-off meetings, closed meetings or retreats of the RTG) cannot only be funded for group members with the DFG’s approval, but also for all researchers involved in the RTG.  

Costs for the caregiver’s return journey to and from the person requiring care are only reimbursed if the caregiver provides the service free of charge. Costs are eligible if they apply to the cheapest reasonable means of transport within the above-mentioned limits. If the care is provided at the caregiver’s home, additional travel expenses incurred to the employee and the travel expenses of the person requiring care can be reimbursed subject to the same conditions. If the care is provided at the place of the business trip, professional development or training on official business, accommodation costs for the person requiring care (e.g. the cost of an extra bed for an accompanying child) and the travel expenses for the person requiring care or the caregiver can be reimbursed within the maximum limits. This applies insofar as this support is guaranteed under state law (cf. e.g. relevant legislation on travel expenses and equal opportunities).

This is only possible in connection with the care of relatives who require a certain level of long-term care according to the national scheme.
The following conditions have been established by the DFG’s funding bodies for the use of DFG funds to cover care costs for those requiring care. The DFG is obliged to implement these conditions; therefore the following applies:

  • in principle, long-term care costs are covered by long-term care insurance, long-term care assistance or subsidies. In the event that the caregiver is unable to be present, the cost of substitute or short-term care is usually covered in the same way.
  • Only in cases where such coverage of care costs is not available is it possible to consider a proportional assumption of the costs from the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity.
  • The requirement for this is the submission of a corresponding rejection notification (e.g. issued by the long-term care insurance company) and proof of the need for long-term care as defined in Section 61(1) Book XII of the Social Code (SGB).
  • On-site documentation must be available showing that the requirements are met for claiming funds from the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity for relatives in need of care.
  • This covers all levels of long-term care under the national scheme.
  • The general upper limit of €600 per year applies to the short-term care of children and relatives.

In the case of long-term care, it is assumed that basic supervision needs are already covered. For this reason, the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity can only be used to finance special care services that go beyond basic care needs and for which the caregivers are not available for project-specific reasons (e.g. due to congress visits). In this connection, only those costs that exceed the expenses already reimbursed according to the long-term care level under the national scheme can be financed from the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity.

What is more, care provision for relatives must be financed through the university or a service provider contracted by it, i.e. there must be no direct flow of money to a caregiver who is involved in the project. For this purpose, the university must offer the relevant services for people with care needs (e.g. by cooperating with a family service that is able to provide such support).

Here, too, the prohibition of favouritism (“Besserstellungsverbot”) must be observed. According to this, persons funded by the DFG may not receive better benefits than persons funded based on locally applicable collective bargaining law – including any additional collective bargaining allowances that may exist.
This means that respective support or care measures for relatives in need of care must be available to all individuals who are involved in research activities at the institution.

When setting up parent-child rooms at research institutions, the required items/fittings can be funded from the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity providing the facilities are used by DFG-funded research staff and this constitutes an additional need (over and above core support). If the parent-child room is used exclusively by researchers involved in the research network, full funding is possible from the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity.

Items/fittings that can be funded (proportionally according to the use by DFG-funded researchers) include the following:

  • Toys/children's books
  • Children’s furniture
  • Nappy-changing table
  • Desk, office chair, technical equipment required for the project-specific activity insofar as this cannot be financed from the usual funds made available by the state.

The Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity can be used to finance a work-from-home office or a mobile workplace for active researchers with family obligations (childcare or the care of relatives who require a certain level of long-term care according to the national scheme) according to the provisions applicable at the institution concerned. This is only possible if such benefits do not already exist as part of the usual resources available to employees at the institution, and if the support is necessary and possible from the point of view of both the project and the family situation. Regulations regarding working from home and mobile work must be fundamentally in place at the institution. The existing regulations are to be applied accordingly in the research network or project.

Technical equipment is eligible for funding if it is required in order to carry out project-specific work and is not already available in connection with core support (for example the PC at the institute workplace). In other words, an adequately equipped workplace must continue to be available on site at the institution/university. Any additional equipment required for a work-from-home or mobile work set-up is to be procured by the research network/project management and remains the property of the university. Subject to this condition, laptops or docking stations can be financed from the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity, for example. It is not possible to finance such items as the provision of wireless LAN, additional electricity consumption or office furniture for a work-from-home set-up.

The Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity can be used to finance relief staff to perform routine activities on behalf of researchers if the latter are subject to a double burden of research work and family obligations.

Relief staff – usually student assistants – are to be employed for a limited period of time and to an appropriate extent. The assessment and justification of what is appropriate is carried out by the funding recipient with the involvement of their HR department. An overall assessment can be used as a basis here. Here, consideration must be given to the necessary scope and time involved in deploying auxiliary staff in order to provide efficient project-specific relief for researchers with families. The decision is to be based on an assessment of the relevant overload/relief in the case of a double burden due to family and work, with due regard given to economic efficiency; this decision is to be documented and kept on site for audit purposes.

Research Training Groups are intended to enable female doctoral and postdoctoral researchers to advance their doctoral projects or other projects as quickly as possible in spite of health and/or legal restrictions on their ability to work during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

If the doctoral/postdoctoral researcher is unable or not permitted to carry out certain tasks due to pregnancy or the need to care for their infant, student or technical assistants can be financed from the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity for the purpose of substitution or support, for example.

If these funds are not sufficient, additional funds can be made available for this specific support of female doctoral and postdoctoral researchers (cf. also Proposal Preparation Instructions - Proposals to Establish Research Training Groups and International Research Training Groups  DFG form 54.05,). If you have further questions, please contact the person responsible for the supervision of your Research Training Group 

For individual grants, Research Units and Priority Programmes as well as in Collaborative Research Centres, the Standard Allowance for Equity and Diversity can also be used to finance support staff for female researchers involved in the project 

  • if certain tasks cannot be carried out due to pregnancy or breastfeeding 
  • or if ongoing, indispensable costs need to be covered during periods of mandatory or parental leave (e.g. ongoing costs for staff for plant care, animal husbandry, etc.).

For individual grants, Research Units and Priority Programmes, it must be considered whether the funds from the allowance should be used in a non-bureaucratic manner (also) for this measure or whether they should be retained for other projects in the area of equity and a supplemental proposal must be submitted instead. For information on the possibilities of such a supplemental proposal (replacement/catch-up period or support staff), please refer to the third drop-down box on www.dfg.de/chancengleichheit/ausfallzeiten.

Further Information

Contact persons

Here you will find the right contacts at the DFG Head Office for various matters: