Educational leave and educational part-time employment

Current information on educational leave and part-time educational leave, the required duration of employment before you are entitled to take educational leave, and agreements between employees and employers.

General information

Educational leave can be agreed between an employer and an employee from the seventh month of employment onwards, for a period ranging from a minimum of two months up to a maximum of one year. The employee's pay will be reduced during this period. Educational leave can also be taken over multiple periods, in which case each period of leave must last for at least two months, and the total duration of all periods of leave must not exceed one year. A new period of educational leave cannot be taken until four years after the start of the previous period of educational leave (this is known as the framework period).

Seasonal employees may also agree periods of educational leave under certain conditions.

Since 1 July 2013, employees who have been employed for an uninterrupted period of more than six months have been able to agree educational part-time employment for a period of four months to two years with their employers. This allows them to take advantage of educational opportunities while remaining employed, and without having to take the entire period as leave. Like educational leave, educational part-time employment can also be agreed over a number of different periods within a four-year framework period. The duration of each period must be at least four months, and the total duration of all the individual periods within the framework period may not exceed two years. This framework period also applies when agreeing any extension of educational part-time employment arrangements.

Pursuant to the Arbeitslosenversicherungsgesetz (Unemployment Insurance Act - AlVG), employees on periods of educational leave are entitled to continuing education allowance amounting to the notional unemployment benefits they would be paid were they unemployed. In order to qualify for these benefits, employees taking educational leave must fulfil the requirements under unemployment insurance law and prove they are participating in a continuing education course for at least 20 hours per week. For people caring for children under seven years of age, the minimum requirement for a course to qualify for continuing education allowance is 16 hours a week if arrangements cannot be made for the child to be cared for by someone else over a longer period.

In respect of agreed periods of educational part-time employment, employees are entitled to educational part-time allowances provided that their normal working hours have not changed during the six months immediately prior to the period of educational part-time employment. Furthermore, the eligibility criteria under unemployment insurance law must be fulfilled, and evidence must be provided that the employee is attending a continuing education course for at least ten hours a week.

Additional earnings from employment with another employer are permitted, provided this employment qualifies as marginal employment. Income from training (e.g. paid training at nursing school) may not exceed one-and-a-half times the marginal earnings threshold.

Requirements

  • Duration of employment prior to the start of educational leave or educational part-time employment in order to qualify for continuing education allowance:
    • Uninterrupted, non-marginal employment for at least six months with the same employer
    • For seasonal employees: Uninterrupted, fixed-term, non-marginal employment for least three months. The employee must also have worked for the same employer for a total period of six months within the four years immediately prior to taking educational leave or educational part-time employment (periods of fixed-term employment with the same employer are added together towards this threshold).
    • Immediately following the receipt of childcare allowance for a period of at least six months, it is possible to agree on educational leave, as these periods are counted towards the entitlement.
  • An agreement between the employer and the employee on educational leave or educational part-time employment. Any agreement on educational part-time employment must be made in writing, and must state the start date, duration, scope and location of the part-time employment. The permitted limits of any reduction in working time must be taken into account in the contract. The working hours must be reduced by at least a quarter, and by a maximum of half, of the employee's previous normal working hours. Weekly hours worked while engaged in part-time education must amount to at least ten hours. In order for an employee to be entitled to part-time education allowance, the remuneration they earn while on educational part-time employment must be above the marginal earnings threshold (additional earnings from other employment are permitted up to the marginal earnings threshold, as mentioned above).
  • Providing evidence of participation in a qualifying training course (see above):
    If the continuing education is in the form of study at an educational institution listed in section 3 of the Studienförderungsgesetz (especially at universities, universities of applied sciences and colleges of education as well as medical-technical and midwifery academies), applicants must provide evidence that examinations conferring credit worth four semester hours per week or eight ECTS credits have been passed (two semester hours or four ECTS credits for educational part-time employment) or other suitable proof of successful participation in the course (e.g. confirmation from the institution concerned that they expect the student to submit a diploma thesis of a suitable standard). This evidence must be submitted to the AMS after each semester. If no such evidence can be provided, and if there are no extenuating reasons for this, the entitlement to a continuing education allowance or part-time educational allowance will be lost for period in respect of which the recipient would otherwise have been entitled to the allowance during the four-year framework period.

Competent authority

The Arbeitsmarktservice (→ AMS)German text office covering the employee's main residence.

Additional information

Agreements on educational part-time employment will generally be considered invalid for the duration of the four-year framework period for educational leave. Likewise, agreements on educational leave are invalid during the framework period for educational part-time employment. However, if a period of educational leave has been agreed, and if that agreed period of leave does not take up the entire allowance available, employees can switch from educational leave to educational part-time employment. This switch can be made only once. As soon as such an agreement is made, no further educational leave may be agreed for the current framework period. The same applies to switching between educational part-time employment and educational leave. By law, a conversion ratio of one to two applies when calculating allowances when an employee switches between educational leave and educational part-time employment.

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Legal basis

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Last update: 13 September 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Labour