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I worked as a Student Assistant (Wissenschaftliche Hilfskrafte) for two years (19 hrs/week) at an institute of a reputed German University. I have received a work experience certificate (Arbeitzeugnis) and the performance rating does not reflect the amount of work I have done. I have been rated as just above average even though I have worked on plenty of projects and have been way better than other student assistants.

I have had some issues with my supervisor at times and I have faced rude unprofessional behaviour on multiple occasions. I'm sure this non work related issue is influencing the rating.

I have enough evidence to support the quality of my work and there are publications in which I have made significant contributions.

I would like to know if I'm legally allowed to further escalate the matter and talk to the institute head about a fair rating?

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    "I would like to know if I'm legally allowed to [...] talk to the institute head about a fair rating": It's safe to say that you are allowed to talk about this matter to whoever you would like. So I'm quite sure that you actually want to ask something else (though I'm not completely sure what it is). Jul 9, 2021 at 21:19
  • I just want a fair rating. I was thinking of contacting the institute head. I just wanted to make sure if it is okay before making the move. Jul 9, 2021 at 22:36
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    Is this a standardized "Arbeitszeugnis" ("er erledigte alle ihm übertragenen Aufgaben zu unserer vollsten Zufriedenheit", etc.), or a scientific letter of recommendation?
    – user151413
    Jul 11, 2021 at 13:30
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    Then what do you dislike about it? These are pretty much standardized (not only at the institute, but throughout employers). Unless it says "zu unserer Zufriedenheit" or the like...
    – user151413
    Jul 11, 2021 at 23:11
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    I don't think people generally would expect that you have a "Zeugnis" from a SHK/WHK job. And moreover: If you apply in Germany, people would expect this letter in German; if you apply abroad, people likely wouldn't know much what to do with it anyway.
    – user151413
    Jul 12, 2021 at 21:21

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I am not a lawyer. If you want legal advice, talk to a lawyer.

That said, you're entitled to an Arbeitszeugnis that is both truthful (Zeugniswahrheit) and favourable (Zeugniswohlwollen). https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbeitszeugnis

As for how to get it, you should probably start with talking to whoever actually wrote the one you have - that could be your advisor or their secretary or someone in the Personalabteilung.

And if that doesn't work, the next step could be one of your advisor, the Personalabteilung, or a lawyer. I wouldn't involve the head unless you have a good relationship with them.

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    Since the relationship with the supervisor seems to be problematic to the point where they issued an unfavorable Arbeitszeugnis, I would talk to HR. I would expect them to issue a new Arbeitszeugnis quickly because that is their safest option under German labor laws.
    – user9482
    Jul 10, 2021 at 9:11
  • My Supervisor is a non German and He has no idea about German laws. He actually took 3 months to provide me a zeugnis. I recently found out that it is supposed to be issued on the last day of employment. I will talk to the HR. I just want to make sure if Wissenschaftliche Hilfskrafte (HiWi) is also covered under German labor laws. Is it considered as a normal employment? Jul 10, 2021 at 21:23
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    @BlackHeart Regulations regarding an Arbeitszeugnis are the same for all jobs. If you get paid, it’s a job. Talk to HR and if that doesn’t help, consult a lawyer. If HR brushes you off, you could even hint doing the latter. They exist to protect the institution. If your facts are as stated, that should mean avoiding lawsuits because of a disgruntled supervisor who doesn’t know German labor laws.
    – user9482
    Jul 11, 2021 at 7:45

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