Pension perils

November 14, 2003

Any colleague contemplating a post at a German university should look carefully at their pension rights.

When I took up my appointment in Munich, I was assured that my years of service in the UK would be taken fully into account when assessing my pension. I could expect to receive at least as much as a German colleague who had served a similar number of years in Germany.

Since then, however, the European Commission has issued a directive that prevents those with pension rights in two countries from simply adding them together and getting a pension at a higher rate than that which obtains in either of those countries.

This has been interpreted and used by the German government to mean that time spent in a university outside Germany cannot be taken into account at all. That means that I would be entitled to only a minimum pension here and that, even when that minimum is combined with my Universities Superannuation Scheme entitlement, I would receive only about two-thirds of the equivalent German pension.

It is presumably for the EC to decide whether this interpretation is legal and desirable, but it is certainly a very serious barrier to mobility.

Alexander Wedderburn
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

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