The Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG) says:

Die Befristung von Arbeitsverträgen des in § 1 Absatz 1 Satz 1 genannten Personals, das nicht promoviert ist, ist bis zu einer Dauer von sechs Jahren zulässig, wenn die befristete Beschäftigung zur Förderung der eigenen wissenschaftlichen oder künstlerischen Qualifizierung erfolgt.

The fixed-term employment contracts of staff referred to in Section 1 (1), first sentence, who do not hold doctoral degrees shall be permissible for a period of up to six years if the fixed-term employment is for the purpose of furthering their own academic or artistic qualifications. (Translation by DeepL)

How are those six years counted? Suppose I am employed as a research assistant for the duration of the winter semester 2022/23 only and do not work in fixed-term jobs that fall within the scope of the law until winter semester 2028/29. Can I take another fixed-term job in 2028 because I haven't worked in such jobs for the total duration of six years yet? Or can't I take another fixed-term job in 2028 because six years will have passed since 2022?

1 Answer 1


Firstly, IANAL.

Coming to your question, indeed the use of "Dauer" in the original law text is a bit ambiguous.

If you have a look at phrase(?) 3 of § 2 of that law, however, it is stated that:

(3) Auf die in Absatz 1 geregelte zulässige Befristungsdauer sind alle befristeten Arbeitsverhältnisse mit mehr als einem Viertel der regelmäßigen Arbeitszeit, die mit einer deutschen Hochschule oder einer Forschungseinrichtung im Sinne des § 5 abgeschlossen wurden, sowie entsprechende Beamtenverhältnisse auf Zeit und Privatdienstverträge nach § 3 anzurechnen.

This can be roughly translated to:

For (computing) the overall duration of the maximum employment duration, all employments with at least 25% of the normal working time are to be taken into account, and which are at a German university of research institute (according to § 5), as well as (...).

This would make no sense if the correct interpretation of "Dauer" (duration) is "6 years after the start of the first contract, no matter how many months are actually worked in academia".

  • 1
    Adding to this, when you are hired for a position that is covered by the WissZeitVG, you are asked to list all your previous pertaining employments, not only the first one.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 21:45

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