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I received a post-doc offer in physics from a German University. The position has a fixed three-year term, which might be extended up to three more years. The original position description says that this is the A13 Z position, Akademischer Rat auf Zeit. It corresponds to a Beamter, or civil servant position. Since I am a foreigner, the inviting professor is asking, whether it would be OK for me to switch it to E13 instead (researcher), since my profile for the position in this case is not needed to be checked by the federal government and the documents would be prepared much faster and easier for the inviting University. The salary would then be increased, to match those of A13 (let's assume the same net amount).

What are disadvantages and benefits of E13 compared A13 if one ignores the difference in the salary scale?

Which one is considered better in a long term?

Some more information on the personal situation:

  • Let's assume I'd like to stay in Germany afterwards.

  • I'm going to marry before starting the position. My partner has two children from the previous marriage.

  • I am not a citizen of the EU or the Schengen group.

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    Advantages of E13 include more freedom (you can simply hand in your notice). Also, a private health care plan (which civil servants need) can have advantages or disadvantages depending on your personal situation, in particular if you get a temporary position and intend to stay in Germany afterwards. Do they increase the E13 to match the net or brutto salary? – Roland Apr 25 '18 at 12:06
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    As I know, E13 gives you the ability to apply for the blue card (unlimited residency) after serving two years as a worker, while A13 considers you as a normal student (same as master or Ph.D. student) with no blue card. That means you will be paying taxes and supervisor will pay extra money in general but you will get less than normal scholarship holders (because of the taxes and health insurance). Please check with your supervisor or the (HR in institutes) to make sure this is the case. – Krebto Apr 25 '18 at 13:22
  • @Roland, thank you for raising these points. I edited the question to add more information. – F. Coop Apr 25 '18 at 14:47
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A E13 position may have a little shorter working hours per week, for eaxample in North Rhine-Westphalia you have to work 39 hrs 50 min/week as "Angestellter" (E13) and 41 hrs/week as Beamter (A13). At least until you are 55 years old, as the working hours for Beamte get gradually reduced as you grow older. But I guess this would not apply to a post-doc position as academic work groups usually do not record the time of their scientist (this means, they often work longer hours without recompensation).

As posted by Roland in his comment above, a Beamter has to get a private health care plan which can be expensive, depending on your age and health status, but as the state pays approximately half of your health care bills, the conditions Beamte get by the private health care companies are much more favourable in comparison to the ones offered to "regular" clients and in the end a Beamter has a higher net salary.

A Beamter has furthermore to pass a health test and perform a vow on the German Grundgesetz (constitution) and the German laws and is not allowed to go on strike. In case of permanent positions, the pensions for Beamte are significantly higher than the pensions for Angestellte. So if you are planning (or hoping) for a permanent position I think a position as Beamter might be more beneficial.

Your family status is also relevant for your salary as Beamter, this means, if you are married with children you will get a higher salary.

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The health care costs are a significant issue to consider, and they are required in Germany.

If you are a Beamter, then you cannot go on the public health plan. To elaborate on drudolf's answer, not only are private health care costs dependent on age, but there is also no protections against pre-existing conditions. You can and will be charged additional costs for coverage if you have a prior health issue. Moreover, unlike the public plans, coverage needs to be extended to each individual member of your family. For a family of four, this could easily be 20% of your net income (or more). While tax changes and Kindergeld allowances can make up some of the shortfall, it probably doesn't cover all of the extra expenses.

So you will want to look at the budgetary issues before making a decision.

  • It is correct that you need to extend the coverage of a private health plan to the individual members of your family. But if your spouse is working as well and has a public health plan, the children can be covered by that. So it is possible to evade that additional cost, as public health plans in Germany have a fixed cost depending on one's salary. – drudolf Apr 26 '18 at 8:37

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