RP Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions of the RP are given below. The menu on the right-hand side points to the pages where the timeline and the application process are described.


Any member of the ESO Astronomy Faculty (see ESO Astronomer Charter) holding an indefinite contract with ESO is eligible to apply for an RP.


In any one year (during an initial period of two years, after which the merits and scale of the pilot scheme will be evaluated), up to 24 person months of RP will be allowed, following a potentially competitive process assessed by the Scientific Personnel Committee (SPC; see later).


Individual RPs are granted for no fewer than 6 and no more than 12 months.


Faculty Astronomers are eligible for a single RP once in every 7-year period, normally after a lengthy period dominated by extensive functional duties.

Salary and Benefits

Salary is covered for a maximum period of 12 months. Benefits (e.g., social security, family allowance, education grant, pension and healthcare, but not duty-specific allowances such as mountain allowance and overtime) are covered by ESO for the period of the RP.

Support for Travel & Lodging

Relocation grants for staff and family are not provided by ESO. Long-term lodging costs are not covered by ESO. Staff on an RP shall, however, continue to receive financial support for research-related travel (e.g., conferences) from the relevant ESO Office for Science, at the standard level.


RPs should normally be taken at research institutes in ESO Member States, in the host state, Chile, or in one of the ALMA partners. Recognising ESO’s duty of care to those with dependents, in exceptional cases - no more than one per year during the pilot programme - an RP can be taken in Garching or Santiago, at a local university or research institute.

Host institute(s) contribution

Host institutes are encouraged to contribute to the cost of an RP by covering the cost of lodgings, subsistence and travel. If salary is offered, ESO’s Human Resources must be informed immediately such that the implications can be assessed and appropriate action taken.

Resuming duties upon return

The position and the associated duties to be taken by the Staff Member after the end of an RP must be mutually agreed with the line manager and the respective Director at the time of the RP application. In case a change of contract is foreseen, the line manager should inform HR at least 6 months before the staff member finishes their RP.

Redistribution of duties

An RP can only be granted if ESO core duties do not suffer due to the staff absence.

In DSC, DMO (USD) and LPO (SciOps), there generally exists an overlap of competencies, such that duties can be re-assigned. It is the responsibility of the line manager to provide - at the time of the application - a preliminary plan for the redistribution of the duties, ensuring operational continuity. Depending on the proposed solution, necessary coordination among the departments and directorates involved may have to be triggered very early in the process, in order to be dealt with properly during the period of resource planning, the latter being ordinarily carried out in the months of May/June of the year prior to the RP.

Redistribution of duties could include:

Redistribution among department members. Where sufficient expertise is present among department members, staff responsibilities can be redistributed and absorbed without need for extra staff.

Replacement by ESO Fellows. ESO Fellows will be offered the chance to step in (once only) during their Fellowship in return for corresponding extension of their Fellowship (these months being absorbed by the Fellowship programme). Chilean Fellows already undertake 50% duties and so cannot compensate for any Chilean RPs to the extent possible in Garching, necessitating the transfer of one Fellowship post from Garching to Chile for the duration of the pilot scheme.

Temporary transfer of staff members between Germany/Chile. Temporary transfers from/to Chile can also be utilised to provide cover. Programme Managers will sometimes need to work with the Head of Project Science and the appropriate Programme Scientist to establish what actions are needed during the RP.

Delegation to Deputy/Interim. For RPs taken by astronomers with high-level responsibilities, at least 6 months must be available to train a deputy/interim replacement.

Temporary reduction of the Reassignment to the Office for Science (Chile). In combination with the first option, above, the Head of SciOps, the Office for Science in Chile and the Director for Science might mutually agree to temporarily reduce the Reassignment to the Office for Science to enable an RP to be granted in Chile.