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I'm a Master's student at one of the TUs (Technical Universities) in Germany. I have been working as a hiwi ("Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft", or Teaching Assistant) under a PhD for the past one year.

I have signed a new contract starting from December for another six months. Can I breach the contract now? What's the procedure if I have to breach it after the contract begins?

Would it affect my job profile? Would I still be able to work in other institutes?

  • Have you checked the contract and the law? And are you concerned about legal or ethic aspects? – user115896 Nov 18 '19 at 19:09
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    Check with your professor or your department chair or whomever is your work supervisor. Walking out on a contract is unlikely to do your reputation any good. But they may be able to fill your position if you give them some notice. – puppetsock Nov 18 '19 at 19:10
  • My Supervisor is very rude. I have coped with him for a year now. I have seen him fire hiwis and he has no courtesy. I wouldn't mind even complaining it to the HR if it's necessary – Black Heart Nov 18 '19 at 19:51
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    Are you dependent from this person? I.e. will he grade you at some point? – user115896 Nov 18 '19 at 20:05
  • No. I'm just working. He is not gonna grade me. – Black Heart Nov 18 '19 at 21:00
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Short answer: Don't do it

Long answer: Breaching your contract would have legal consequences. It also will definitely not help you getting work anywhere else. Formally the fabled 'black lists' don't exist, but in general people talk to each other and someone simply breaking their contract is exceptional enough that news will spread fast. Furthermore at least in the place I was, the paperwork is often done by the universities HR-department and payment is handled through the same state agency, independent of which other institute you work at, so this will turn up as a red flag.

You can ask your boss to cancel a contract. What you want is called an "Auflösungsvertrag". However this needs to be agreed on by both sides, so you better have a good enough reason. For example as a boss, if you told me that you want to interrupt your studies to take care of a dying relative, I would gladly sign it, but if you told me you got a better offer somewhere else, I would still insist on you fulfilling the contract until I at least can find a replacement. And don't lie, as mentioned before, bad news travels fast.

Apart from this, if there is no other clause in your contract allowing you to give notice, it's best to just bear it for another six months. Document your hours, do your job diligently and wait for the time to be up. If you worked for the same boss for a year already, you knew what you were signing up for.

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  • Thank you for the suggestion. I already have another offer. Yes, I knew what i was signing for. I just didn't want to leave all of a sudden and put him through the effort of training a new hiwi. Now that I have signed, I can see him being more rude. Turns out I have to pay the price for being nice. – Black Heart Nov 18 '19 at 20:58
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    @BlackHeart The price of being nice is paid immediately, while the reward is long in coming. But usually it's coming. Just be more careful in the future. Since you knew this supervisor is a nasty fellow, you had some forewarning. Good luck! – Captain Emacs Nov 18 '19 at 21:43
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    +1 Auflösungsvertrag is the solution here: these fixed term contracts usually do not have the normal one-sided cancellation rights that permanent contracts have (keine ordentliche Kündigung) - from neither side. But then, if both sides agree, the contract can be voided. – cbeleites unhappy with SX Nov 18 '19 at 23:24
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Ask your student union. You should have a student union which can help you with both legal issues and university-related problems. Your problem falls into both categories. Your peoblem is really depending on your concrete place. There could be a long waiting list of prospective Hiwis (if the prof often fires HiWis maybe there are a lot of them?) or it could be a huge problem. Ideally, you would talk together with one student union person to a representative of the university and find together a good solution.

About being blacklisted: If the prof is just any prof (as opposed to a prof in the field you are doing research in, or one of the few recommendation letter guys), it is in my opinion retty unlikely that this message is important enough to come across to some other university. A Hiwi position is just not very relevant in the grand schema of things (sorry!). Again, local people probably know more.

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Resigning from and breaching a contract are two different things. Have you read the contract? Most likely you have to give notice one month in advance. Usually resigning with due notice is not a big deal. In any case, it's your right.

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