Cabinet pushing schools to give teachers permanent contracts after 1 year
Schools should be forced to offer teachers who are performing well a permanent contract after one year, said Education Ministers Dennis Wiersma and Robbert Dijkgraaf. The ministers stated their position in a bill they intend to submit as a response to a vocal majority of parliamentarians in the Tweede Kamer. Teachers, school administrators and others will be allowed to give their opinion before the bill goes to the lower House of Parliament. Already, one relevant association has said it was annoyed by the ministers’ method.
The obligation to hire the teachers will apply to both primary and secondary schools if the bill passes. They must also ensure that at least 80 percent of teaching staff is permanent. In addition, limits will be set on the number of self-employed persons and temporary workers that schools may hire. A maximum of five percent of the government money that schools receive will be allowed to be spent on the self-employed or temporary workers. The law should take effect from 2024 if approved.
According to the new rules stated in the bill, teachers must in principle be offered a permanent contract for four or five days a week. A contract is only allowed to deviate from this if the teacher chooses it, or if the school has "compelling arguments.” The latter is the case, for example, if the teacher teaches a specific subject for which there is little work.
The proposal for the Strategic Personnel Policy Act also contains plans to better guide teachers, give them more career opportunities and reduce their workload. The new rules should make it more attractive to choose education and not to choose a different career path over time. In this way, the ministers hope to prevent constantly classrooms from a merry-go-round of changing faces at the front of the class.
Wiersma said he has heard"too many stories" of "teachers who go from one temporary contract to another" or who have to gather the equivalent of a full-time job by working at several schools, which leads to disdain for their chosen profession. "Then the fun is over quickly."
The collective bargaining agreements for primary and secondary education already state that schools must, in principle, offer teachers a permanent contract after one year. A motion by Peter Kwint (SP) with the request to make this legally mandatory was supported last year by a large majority in parliament. According to the motion, the government must arrange this "if the consultations with the social partners do not lead to a binding agreement".
Secondary schools annoyed by “tough act” about teacher contracts
The VO-Raad, which represents secondary education, accused Wiersma of being "tough." The Council said teachers in principle already receive a permanent contract after a year because of the collective bargaining deals. "Instead of complimenting the sector and setting it an example, he comes up with the 'tough' proposal to arrange it himself," the organization responded.
"The minister bases this on stories he hears. It would be better for him to test those stories against the facts.”
According to a spokesperson for the VO-Raad, the announcement suggests that schools like to work with as many temporary contracts as possible. "You'd be crazy as a school leader," he said. "Then you have to look for new teachers annually in May." According to the Council, 80 percent of teachers are already in permanent employment.
Sometimes temporary contracts may be necessary, according to the secondary school association. In areas where the population is shrinking, for example, a school may foresee in advance that there will be one or two fewer classes in the following school year, the spokesperson explained.
He added that schools are increasingly receiving temporary funding instead of structured budgets, which has created a kind of “subsidy confetti.” A large temporary subsidy pot, for example, is the National Program for Education, which was set up to clear backlogs that had arisen due to the coronavirus pandemic. "With money you get for one or two years, you can't hire permanent workers."
The VO-Raad also believes that the minister is on thin ice legally with the bill. According to the association, regulating the terms of employment is not up to politicians, but to the social partners: the employers and trade unions.
Reporting by ANP