The European Molecular Biology Laboratory is an intergovernmental organization, which is why social security for their employees has to be adequately provided by the organization itself. At EMBL almost all PhD students and post docs are associated to the personnel group ‘fellows’. Historically fellows were excluded from some of the social security schemes, which were offered to all other staff, like unemployment benefits and pension payments. In 2011 Dominik Boeke and me, both as elected fellow representatives in EMBL’s staff association, started an initiative to introduce a pension scheme for fellows at EMBL. Initially we organized the fellow’s representation in this matter throughout EMBL Heidelberg and all outstations in favor for concerted efforts to convince EMBL administration, the Director General and Council about our concerns (the Council consists of representatives of all member states and determines EMBL’s policies). Hundreds of fellows, the staff association and many more actively supported the initiative. Eventually, EMBL introduced a pension scheme for fellows in a two-step process in 2012 and 2014. In addition to pensions, the fellows were also provided with unemployment benefits and other social security funds.
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