A friend of mine ("Tim") has some worsening health conditions which started about half a year ago.
The health condition is still under study with Tim's gp.
But after a few months consulting the doctor Tim got a note saying he cannot work longer than four hours a day due to medical reasons. Which is correct, he tested it and I saw the difference. It changes a lot.
Normal daily time is eight hours.
Eight hours means him being on verge of a mental breakdown and being physically weak, meaning the need to lie down, since even sitting is too much.
This state normally remains for a few days at least on some level.
Changing to four hours using old overtime showed a huge difference.
We are talking about being able to be happy for more than a few minutes here.
This is why he went to the gp, told him about the difference and got this note.
The gp takes the problem seriously and sends him to specialists.

This note has no time limit ("für unbestimmte Zeit").

Time informed some person responsible for work time reduction ("Stundenreduzierung"), which circulated a little bit since no one knew what to do.
They have experience with work time reuction due to pregnancy and kids.
There are certain rules about those people getting still earning like full time.
But they are not sure how to handle this situation.
One of the people in the loop said Tim should maybe just reduce his time on his own violation, which would certainly result in a salary reduction.
One can image that this is not the preferred solution.

One meeting was set in the near future by some people of the management. They said they have no precedent so they want to talk about it, since they don't know how to handle this correctly. They also asked about core working times ("Kernzeiten") which are a certain four hours a day. This can still be provided by Tim.
The issue are not the times, but the quantity.
But still, this worries Tim, since he does neither wants to lose part of his salary.
Tim's contract is a limited contract ("befristeter Vertrag"), which could require some diplomacy.

Country is Germany.
The working place is a research centre ("Forschungseinrichtung") and he works in civic service ("öffentlicher Dienst"&"TV-L"). This also means this organization is non-profit. It has several thousand workers. His job is a desk job at most times, no physical labor.
There are no process reasons ("betriebliche Gründe") against it, at least none we know about.

What we have researched:

  • Disability would allow full salary for some time: § 164 Abs. 5 SGB IX https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/sgb_9_2018/__164.html "(5) Die Arbeitgeber fördern die Einrichtung von Teilzeitarbeitsplätzen. Sie werden dabei von den Integrationsämtern unterstützt. Schwerbehinderte Menschen haben einen Anspruch auf Teilzeitbeschäftigung, wenn die kürzere Arbeitszeit wegen Art oder Schwere der Behinderung notwendig ist; Absatz 4 Satz 3 gilt entsprechend."
  • There is some three month period mentioned before the employer is required to change you time. Which is bad, since this a lot of working time lost till then. https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/tzbfg/__8.html talks about

Main questions

  • How to handle the meeting?
  • How to ensure, if possible to get as little salary reduction as possible.
  • As bonus: he is thinking about getting some certificate of disability in order

Please tell me if any information is missing or if you see see some clutter.

  • 9
    You need to speak to an employment lawyer
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 7:36
  • 1
    Your friend should definitely make an appointment and have a talk with an expert on such a situation in regards to labour-law etc. before having the meeting -> arbeitnehmerkammer.de
    – iLuvLogix
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 9:07
  • 4
    It seems unrealistic to expect the employer to continue to pay the full salary for half the work for an indefinite period of time. If this were something which a reduced workload for some finite period of time might 'fix' the issue then maybe - but for ever ... ?
    – brhans
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 17:40
  • Is disability insurance a thing in Germany?
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 18:48
  • @brhans An unspecified time is not the same thing as permanently. If this does count as being sick, he will be paid fully for several weeks by his employer and then move on to getting money through his health insurance. OP should definitely consult an expert/ lawyer on the topic but in Germany it is very possible their employer will just have to continue paying him in full until recovery.
    – quarague
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 10:41

1 Answer 1


Tim should talk to a local lawyer and also his union or "Personalrat" . They can advise on options and best way to approach this.

From what I can gather (NO LEGAL ADVISE intended): Reducing work hours to accommodate medical issues is certainly doable, but will in most cases also result in a pay cut.

I know at least one person in Germany, who does reduced hours because of a disability, but they only get paid for the hours they actually work.

Helpful reading: https://lebenslauf.net/arbeitszeitverkuerzung which specifcally covers

Teilkrankschreibung aus gesundheitlichen Gründen: Ist sie möglich?

Is "part time medical disability" possible? Short Answer: No.

Arbeitszeitverkürzung bei vollem Lohnausgleich?

Work time reduction at full salary? Short answer: The employer is not required to do this, although they can choose to voluntarily do so.

The tricky part here might be the following: If you go on medical disability, there is in many cases an insurance mechanism that pays your salary, so it doesn't come out of the employers pockets. Such a mechanism doesn't exist for medically related hour reductions.

  • Personalrat is the way to go, it is their job to help here. If a lawyer is necessary depends on the qualification of the Personalrat, but these things are usually handled very well by them. If they do not know, there is the Gesamtpersonalrat for all research institutions / universities of that federal state.
    – oekopez
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 14:39

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