Contract extensions in the case of force majeure

Preambule | Eligibility Requirements | Procedure for requesting an attestation of impediment to research from "UNIL Dicastère Recherche"


On 15 June 2021, the UNIL Direction decided to specify the terms and conditions for extending contracts of some members of the academic intermediary staff (Corps intermédiaire) in cases of force majeure (art. 24 du Règlement sur les assistants à l’Université de Lausanne). These new procedures will be applied not only in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also on a permanent basis in circumstances with similar effects (armed conflicts, natural disasters, etc.).

This procedure is distinct from the adhoc procedure implemented in summer 2020 related to the coronavirus crisis. An extension obtained in 2020 (as part of the exceptional measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic) is not counted in the total duration of the commitment.

Eligibility Requirements

Relevant situations

a) impossibility of access or severely restricted access to infrastructures, resources, fields, research data or persons crucial to the advancement of his/her personal research, in Switzerland or abroad;

b) impossibility to carry out the qualifying or formal steps necessary for the advancement or finalization of his/her Ph.D., if these are conditions required by the doctoral regulations of the concerned faculty.

Concerned persons

a) graduate assistants and "premiers·ères assistant·e·s" on Vaud funds;

Similarly :

b) Ph.D. students, SNSF senior researchers, graduate assistants, first assistants ("premiers·ères assistant·e·s") hired on Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) or other third-party funding, according to the terms and conditions linked to their respective statutes/contracts.


An attestation may only be requested for personal research impediments of one month or more. A contract extension will only be granted if the cumulative duration of the hindrances is at least two months.

For researchers on third-party fundings (SNSF and other external fundings), the following additional conditions apply :

a)  The funder must have validated an extension of the contract on the concerned research mandate ;
b) The extension granted by UNIL is dictated by the funding agency's conditions (duration in particular);

c) When UNIL assumes responsibility for an extension authorized by the funding agency but without additional funding, the cost is covered first by the available concerned fundings of the PI in charge of the research, then by the faculty, and as a last resort by the Direction's own funds.

For academic intermediate staff preparing a Ph.D thesis, there is, in principle, no contractual extension if the degree is obtained at beginning of the extension period.

Deadline for requesting an attestation of impediment to research

The demand for an attestation of impediment to research must be addressed by the researcher to the UNIL Dicastère recherche. The demand may be addressed at the time the hindrance is noted or experienced. In any case, it must reach the Dicastère recherche no later than 8 months before the end of the researcher's contract (end of the last initially planned contract), i.e., in principle, in the 5th year for graduate assistants and first assistants (assistant·e·s diplômé·e·s et premier·ère·s assistant·e·s) funded by Vaud.

Procedure for requesting an attestation of impediment to research to the UNIL Dicastère recherche.

Deadline for submitting a demand for contractual extension

The demand for a contractual extension must be sent to the Human Resources Department by the faculty's service channel at the latest 5 months before the end of the contract. The duration of the extension includes, if applicable, the other reasons for extension provided for in article 24 RA-UL. The duration of this exceptional extension is rounded up to the nearest month; it can not exceed one year.

The extension is made at the end of the last employment contract according to the contractual conditions of the current contract.

Inception date

This was adopted by the UNIL Direction on June 15, 2021. This measure is immediately effective .

Procedure for requesting an attestation of impediment to research from "UNIL Dicastère Recherche"

Documenting the impediment to personal research

It is the responsibility of the researcher to collect the documents allowing to establish a situation of blockage beyond his/her control in the progress of his/her research, in particular an impossibility of access or strongly hindered access to infrastructures, resources, fields, research data, participants or subjects essential to his/her work (in Switzerland or abroad).

The documents collected may be official (e.g., a letter to the researcher denying access to an organization or institution) or informal. Some examples of documents that may be produced are press articles reporting a general strike, a major landslide in a mountainous area, a natural disaster (flood, earthquake), abnormally persistent summer snow in high altitudes, a recommendation from the DFA in relation to political unstability or health risks (epidemic, epizootic), a decree from a foreign government, for example, in relation to a pandemic, a screenshot from an Internet site announcing the prolonged closure of an archive, etc. It will be necessary to follow up on the collection of documents to attest to the duration of the blocking event. It is strongly recommended that the researcher document things at the time of the event rather than at the time of submission (8 months before the end of the last contract, which could be several months or even years later).

Another source of impediment to the advancement of personal research for Ph.D. students is the impossibility of carrying out the qualifying or formal steps necessary for the advancement or finalization of their Ph.D.. , These  conditions may be required in the Ph.D. regulations of the concerned faculty. An example is the cancellation of courses or training workshops (e.g. CUSO) required by a doctoral school / graduate school / Ph.D.programme and/or absolutely necessary for the progress of the Ph.D. (e.g. mastering a new technique).

In this case, an official certificate of cancellation issued by the organizers of the event must be produced, as well as confirmation of the need to have followed this activity from the doctoral school or the supervisor if the researcher is not attached to a Graduate school / Ph.D. program.

Complete the application form for an attestation of impediment to research

An application form in pdf format   must be filled out by the researcher. Only restrictions of one month or more will be considered for an extension. The cumulative duration of the impediments must reach at least two months.

It is recommended that the researcher initiate a discussion with his/her supervisor at this stage. An optional field dedicated to his/her advance notice is available in the form.

Send the form to the UNIL Dicastère Recherche

1. The researcher must send his/her request for a research impediment attestation to the UNIL Dicastère recherche at, with a copy to his/her research supervisor.

2. The Research Department will evaluate the application and return the completed form with its decision to the researcher and his/her supervisor by email within 30 days.

Procedure for requesting a contract extension

Once the certificate of impediment to research is obtained, the researcher follows the official service channel of his/her faculty in order to initiate a request for a contractual extension. This should be supported by the notice included in the certificate.

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