Legal Framework


General information

The information provided here is non-binding. Legal and financial regulations may differ significantly depending on your nationality. Some measures may be accessible to EU citizens but not to third-country nationals.


In such cases, the Frankfurt Association for the Support of International Students (Frankfurter Verein zur Unterstützung internationaler Studierender e. V.) might be the only possibility to obtain financial assistance.

Special rules currently apply in many areas for Ukrainian refugees.

If in doubt, please contact the respective advisory services linked to this website.

​Parental Leave (Elternzeit)

Like parental allowance (Elterngeld), parental leave (Elternzeit) is, within the meaning of the Federal Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz (BEEG)) first of all intended for working parents. They have the right towards their employer to unpaid leave until the child is three years of age. In consultation with the employer, twelve months of the months of parental leave not used in the first three years can be transferred to the period when the child is aged between 3 and 8 years, if applicable.

You can submit an informal application for parental leave to your employer, whom you must notify at the latest seven weeks before it is due to commence. From this point on, you have statutory protection against dismissal. Even if you have a legal claim against the university, it always makes sense to discuss individual arrangements (who will stand in for you while you are on parental leave, your later reintegration at your workplace, etc.) with your supervisor at this point in time at the latest.

When submitting the initial application, parental leave is set for the first two years of the child's life. This can be changed once in consultation with the employer and without stating reasons. Provisions for a further change only apply in cases of hardship.

When applying, please note that parental allowance is paid on the basis of months of the child's life. Accordingly, you should therefore also apply for parental leave equating to months of the child's life, insofar as you are claiming parental allowance to replace loss of salary. You otherwise risk losing a month's payment.

When making your plans, please also note the rules on parental allowance.

You can find further information about the rules at Goethe University Frankfurt on the website of the Staff Services Department (in German only). In case of doubt, please request a personal appointment with the HR administrator responsible.

You can find an explanation of parental leave and parental allowance in English on the Federal Government's website for foreign nationals:

You can submit your application online on the website of the Federal State of Hesse (in German only).

The Family Service is happy to help you if you have any questions about parental leave and other topics related to reconciling your studies and your family responsibilities.

Please click here for further information about the services available.

Maternal leave and protection (Mutterschutz)

The Maternity Protection Portal  of Goethe University Frankfurt (Mutterschutzportal) offers customised information for all pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, as well as for those persons responsible for implementing corresponding measures, and in this way ensures transparency and a sound basis for taking the next steps.

Remote working

Not just since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has it become apparent how important the option of mobile working is for the everyday reconciliation of work and family responsibilities.

The terms working from home and telework are often used synonymously. Working from home has asserted itself as the term commonly understood by the general public. The difference between mobile work and telework is that telework is legally defined in the Workplace Ordinance (Arbeitsstättenverordnung) (in German only) and thus the legally correct term.

You can find information about the conditions at Goethe University Frankfurt for making regular use of this option in the A-Z of the Staff Services Department (in German only).

Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG))

The Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG)) contains a few rules for early career researchers with family responsibilities. Which rules apply in your situation depends essentially on your type of employment.

According to Section 2 (1) of the Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act, the maximum fixed-term contractual period can be extended by periods of absence (Nachholzeiten) (maternity protection periods and parental leave). At Goethe University Frankfurt, the fixed-term period is usually limited until the 12th year of the contract in accordance with Section 2 (1); only after 12 years (previous periods have been exhausted) does the fixed-term period begin in accordance with Section 2 (2).

If the employment contract is a fixed-term contract in accordance with Section 2 (1) of the Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act, i.e. if there is what is called a “training time limit" (Qualifizierungsbefristung), the employment contract is extended after the maternity protection periods and parental leave.

If the employment contract is a fixed-term contract in accordance with Section 2 (2) of the Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act, i.e. if it is limited because it is financed from third-party funding, the contract will not be extended by the periods of absence without further ado. Extension options depend on the third-party funding organisation, and it might be necessary to find individual solutions.

Employment duration in the case of doctoral degrees

The Executive Board has decided that doctoral employment contracts for posts funded by the State of Hesse will continue to be concluded for the duration of 5 years (3+2 years).

In the interest of quality assurance, the Executive Board recommends that the faculties also apply this regulation to posts financed from third-party funds.

In general, employment into the sixth year prior to completing the doctoral degree can continue, upon application by the faculty, if the individual concerned has care responsibilities towards:

  • One or more children under 18 years of age


  • Relatives in need of care

Periods of employment as a student or research assistant in the Master's phase, employment as a non-academic staff member as well as periods of employment at other universities and at research institutions at Goethe University Frankfurt do not count towards employment in the sixth year, provided that the maximum permissible fixed-term period of six years for a doctoral degree is not exceeded.

If the conditions mentioned above are not met, employment in the sixth year can only continue if the faculty suspends filling the post again for an additional three months.

Family policy component

Upon application by the staff member and the faculty, the extension of a fixed-term contract under consideration of the family policy component pursuant to Section 2 (1) Sentence 3 of the Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act must in principle be granted. In this way, it is possible for the overall duration of fixed-term employment permissible during the doctoral and postdoctoral phases to be extended by two years per child. There is, however, no statutory entitlement to application of the family policy component.

The administrators in the Staff ServicesDepartment (in German only) and the Family Service at the Equal Opportunities Office are on hand to advise you.

Further information

Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act and the coronavirus pandemic