Conflict and psychosocial consultation

Contact points for staff members in the case of conflicts

Wherever people come together, there will be conflicts and problems. Depending on personality and disposition, there are different ways of handling such issues: wordily, factually, noisily, silently, aggressively or not at all. Unresolved conflicts may have an impact on the overall working climate and may significantly affect the motivation, even of staff members who are not directly involved. This is why it is important for the conflicting parties as well as their environment that conflicts are addressed and solved in a sustainable manner.

You do not have to find a solution by yourself, if you find yourself in a conflict or problematic situation. There are different points of contact within the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, depending on whether it is a conflict with your peers, with superior or subordinate staff members, whether you feel discriminated against due to your personal situation, or if you are currently unable to perform the way you wish you could, owing to professional or private issues.

General Conflicts / Bullying


Your superior is always your first point of contact, when it comes to conflicts within the team, with your peers from your own unit or from other units.

If your superior is involved in the conflict, or if you would generally prefer more distance and confidentiality, there are further points of contact that will provide help and advice for finding a solution:

(General) Works Council

The Works Council with its members is the workforce representation of all staff members of your facility / your Institute. It is bound to confidentiality and will only act in coordination with you. If there is no Works Council at your facility / Institute, you may contact the General Works Council of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Contact persons at the General Works Council are not only the Chairman and Vice Chairwoman, but all members of the Central Works Committee.


Max Planck PhDnet is a network representing the over 4500 doctoral researchers (DR) within the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.


According to the mediation guidelines of the MPG, every employee is entitled to apply for arbitration in the case that complaints or disputes cannot be settled at an institute. Three arbitration advisors are appointed for each section.

Psychosocial consultation

Many facilities and Institutes of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft have also appointed an external service provider for occupational healthcare and health management, which provides psychosocial consultation. These conversations are treated confidentially and anonymously, this means that your employer will not find out about them. 

Employee and Manager Assistance Programme EMAP

Professional, external and anonymous counselling service from the Fürstenberg Institute at any time, on any day of the week for employees and scholarship holders of the Max Planck Society. You can reach the Institute at any time by phone, Email or direct conversation. Staff is supported by counsellors and consultants with psychological, mediatory, health science or management-related expertise, among other things, and can provide counselling in German or English, and, if required, also in French, Spanish, Russian and Dutch. Contact: +49 800 387 7836;

Scientific Misconduct


The ombudsperson provides confidential advice in the case of conflicts that relate to matters of good scientific practice. These conversation are treated as confidential.


Gender Equality Officer

You may contact the Gender Equality Officer of your facility / Institute, if you are under the impression that general principles of gender equality and those of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft are not complied with. As an alternative, you may also contact the Central Gender Equality Officer. These conversations are treated as confidential. The principles of gender equality and the General Works Agreement for gender equality are outlined in the "Organisationshandbuch".

(General) Representative Council for Individuals With Severe Disabilities

If you are a staff member with severe disabilities and feel discriminated against due to your status, or if you are under the impression that the Framework Inclusion Agreement (in German only) is being violated, you may contact the Representative Council for Individuals With Severe Disabilities at your facility / Institute. Another point of contact that is available to you is the General Representative Council for Individuals With Severe Disabilities of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.

Employer's inclusion representative  

All employers must appoint a representative in accordance with section 181 of the Social Code IX to represent them in matters concerning individuals with disabilities. In addition to the overall inclusion representative of the MPG, local representatives are appointed at each institution/institute who are responsible locally and work closely with the representatives of individuals with disabilities, the works council as well as the competent authorities according to Social Code IX.

Sexulized Acts

You may contact the Gender Equality Officer at your facility / Institute, also regarding matters of sexualized discrimination, harassment and violence. Furthermore, the Policy against Sexualized Discrimination, Harassment and Violence that was introduced at the beginning of 2018, highlights that the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft does not tolerate any misconduct in this context and it also specifies a procedure for handling conflicts. Further points of contact for affected individuals are also included in this Policy, and it provides for training sessions for these groups of people. An initial complaint may be submitted informally. A written record of the incident that is signed by the complaining individual, is required for the initiation of any further steps. The Central Gender Equality Officer is informed at this point. Regarding the appropriateness and implementation of actual measures, the Institute may seek support from the “Personnel and Personnel Law” Department, and / or seek individual coaching. The procedure allows for an overview of conflicts at the MPG, to allow for long-term preventive measures. The basis for this is general applicability, that was achieved through a General Works Agreement and a resolution by the Executive Committee.

Handling information on suspected non-scientific misconduct

On 1 July 2019, the Staff Unit “Internal Investigations” has been set up within the Internal Audit Department of the Administrative Headquarters.

What is the role of the Staff Unit?

The Staff Unit is responsible for conducting internal investigations into information on suspected non-scientific misconduct by MPG employees. It submits a report (with recommendations) to the body authorized to make the relevant decisions.
Misconduct is defined as behaviour contrary to law, contracts, or regulations, which affects the MPG and/or its employees in a professional context.

Who can contact the staff unit?

The Staff Unit can be contacted by all MPG employees as a central reporting office.

How can you report an indication of non-scientific misconduct?

If you have information about misconduct or a well-founded suspicion that misconduct has occurred and you wish to bring this to the attention of the MPG, you can contact the staff unit as follows:

Dr. Julia Lutz-Seitz, LL.M. Eur.
Head of Staff Unit Internal Investigations
Internal Audit Department
Phone: +49 89 21 08 26 35
Postal address: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e.V.
Generalverwaltung, Hofgartenstraße 8, 80539 München

Notifications to the Staff Unit Internal Investigations are subject to a particular confidentiality. The extent of this confidentiality should always be clarified at the beginning of the conversation.

How does the Staff Unit work?

Within the framework of an internal investigation, the Staff Unit investigates the facts in order to identify serious breaches of duty and standards. In doing so, the staff unit takes up the information on suspected non-scientific misconduct, interviews employees and/or third parties and analyses documents and files.

The work of the Staff Unit is based on the principles of confidentiality, independence, objectivity and procedural compliance.

If the allegations affect the MPG as a whole, the Staff Unit is responsible for the centralised internal investigation under the overall responsibility of the Vice-President responsible for the procedure. In all other cases, the Staff Unit will hand over the investigation to the individual MPIs after a decision has been made by the responsible Vice-President.

Appointment of a lawyer as a person of trust

Victims of bullying, harassment, sexualized assault or discrimination according to the General Act on Equal Treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, AGG) are now also able to consult the law firm Wirsing Hass Zoller. The lawyers Dr. Christine Dross and Thomas Müller represent the law firm as confidants. Staff members of the MPI for Astrophysics are asked to contact Dr. Dross only.

The confidants will accept your information or complaints and give an assessment of whether these are likely to be legally relevant. It is up to you to decide if and to whom your report will be passed on. The confidants are bound to absolute secrecy if you wish so.

You may contact the confidants by phone or email, and they are also available for personal meetings. Furthermore, they are also available to discuss matters with you in English, and you can contact them as follows:

Wirsing Hass Zoller - Rechtsanwälte Partnerschaft MbB
Maximilianstraße 35 C
80539 Munich

Dr. Christine Dross
Phone: 089 29 00 71-28

Thomas Müller
Phone: 089 29 00 71-0

This service is initially available until Dezember 31, 2020 and free of charge for staff members.

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