Below you can find information on the following subjects:
- What is expected of a member of staff in this position?
- Type of contract and duration of the employment
- Is there a possibility for extension?
- Percentage of employment
- Salary and seniority
- Supplementary pension
- Only possible reasons to end the employment
What is expected of a member of staff in this position?
These members of staff are performing academic research with the aim of obtaining a doctoral title. Registration for the doctorate and de doctoral program within 30 days is obligatory, following the Education and Examination Code.
These members of staff are entitled during their employment to participate to all courses, forms of training and coaching that are being provided by UGent to doctoral students.
Supplementary information based on the amendments approved by the board of governors on March 26th 2019:
Should you assess that your duties as imposed by your supervisor do not reasonably allow you to work on your PhD for a sufficient amount of time, as required for this type of employment, than you can file an appeal against this. This is possible until at the latest 6 months before the end of your employment as mentioned in the clause of maximum duration in your contract.
This appeal will be assessed by an ad hoc committee composed of the faculty management of your faculty, together with the chief academic administratot and the director of Personnel. Also at least one member of contractual scientific staff of your faculty will be member of his ad hoc committee. Should the committee not be convinced of the validity of your appeal, the committee is obliged to hear you first. During this hearing you can be assisted, e.g. by your trade union or by another person of confidence.
The ad hoc committee takes a final decision within 3 months after receipt of the appeal. If the committee considers your appeal to be valid, then the committee decides to first ask your supervisor whether the assignment of tasks can be changed in such a way as to to reasonably enable you to complete your PhD within the remaing time period. Should be established that this is factually impossible, then the committee decides that your contract will be converted to a normal employment contract without clause of maximum duration, i.e. without fixed end date for the employment. Should this new contract at some point be ended by a period of notice, e.g. by lack of sufficient further funding, then the notice period cannot start before the end date of your original employment contract as mentioned in its clause of maximum duration.
In case of a contractual position as member of scientific staff in group 1 there are 2 possible recruitment procedures:
- Preferably through public vacancy:
- Recruitment through public vacancy is done in maximum three phases, in the following order, until a suitable candidate has been found.
- In each phase the budget holder is responsible for the selection among the candidates who have submitted their application. The budget holder determines the procedure and guarantees objective appreciation and equal treatment of all candidates. The budget holder will give a short written motivation (as part of the recruitment proposal) on the selected candidate to the department of personnel and organization.
- The three phases are as follows:
- The vacancy will first be offered during 7 calendar days to existing members of scientiific staff with a labour contract who are in implacement, and for whom new employment is being sought after short-term, e.g. because funding is no longer available at their current place of employment within UGent.
- If no suitable candidate is found during the implacement phase, then the vacancy will be offered during 7 calendar days to all contractual members of scientific staff at UGent, as part of a so-called “internal round”.
- If no suitable candidate is found during this internal round, then the vacancy will be made public outside of UGent during at least 7 calendar days.
- However, recruitment without public vacancy remains possible, by the budget holder appointing a suitable candidate, e.g. a master student of whom he or she has supervised the master dissertation, and who has shown the required competences to conduct doctoral research. In this case an additional professor from the same department will also be involved in the selection (as second opinion) following the 4-eyes principle.
Type of contract and duration of the employment
Contractual scientific staff in group 1 receive a permanent contract with clause of maximum duration.
This means that already from the start there is an agreement on when at the latest legal notice will be given to end the employment. Apart from exceptional extension (see below) there are three posibilities:
- The employment will be terminated after 4 years. In this case the scientific staff member will be able to spend at least 90% of the working time on his or her own doctoral research. This is the same rule as for e.g. a 4 year individual mandate from FWO.
- The employment will be terminated after 6 years. In this case the scientific staff member will be able to spend at least 50% of the working time on his or her own doctoral research. This is the same rule as for e.g. a 6 year mandate of an assistant.
- The employment will be terminated after a period of max. 2 years (to be determined in advance). This is a so called “completion mandate” for doctoral researchers who have already spent a certain period on their doctoral research in the same or a different statute. In this case the scientific staff member must spend all of his or her working time during this completion mandate on the doctoral research. This completion mandate is more or less comparable to the final year that can exceptionally be granted (when well motivated) to assistants for the completion of their doctoral research after the 6 year mandate is finished.
Should one have worked on his or her doctoral research before being recruited as contractual scientific staff in group 1, then these previous years are taken into account to calculate the remaining maximum period in group one that will be written in the contract clause of maximum duration so that in total the corresponding maximum of 4 or 6 years is not being exceeded. This means that if one has already done doctoral research during a period of at least 6 years before being recruited as contractual scientific staff in group 1, only a completion mandate of 2 years can be granted. However, recruitment as contractual scientific staff in group 3, following the rules for this category, remains possible.
Is there a possibility for extension?
Change of information based on the amendments approved by the board of governors on March 26th 2019: Contractual scientific staff in group 1 are entitled to an extension for the period of absence in case of maternity leave, long-term sick leave (including also a pro rata extension in case of partial resumption of work), or so called full time thematic leave (= parental leave (including also a pro rata extension in case of partial parental leave), leave for medical assistance of a family member, leave for palliative care for another person, or Flemish Care Leave (including also a pro rata extension in case of partial Flemish Care Leave for taking care of a child)).
Apart from this they can receive an exceptional and one-off extension to finish their doctoral studies (as described above under “Type of contract and duration of the employment”).
When one of the above extensions is granted then the end date of the employment, as mentioned in the contract clause of maximum duration, is modified through an annex to the labour contract that is to be signed by employee and employer.
Percentage of employment
Contractual scientific staff members in group 1 have a full time employment. This can be with a full time labour contract as member of scientific staff, but it can also be achieved through a combination of a part time contract as member of scientific staff combined with one or more other part time employments in different statutes within of outside of UGent in total always adding up to a full time employment.
Either way UGent garanties, also in case of combination with a part time employment outside UGent, that the scientific staff member can always work for at least 50% of a full time on his or her doctoral research.
Salary and seniority
Contractual scientific staff member in group 1 receive a salary following the salary scale WM1. This is the same salary scale as is being paplied to assistants and predoctoral scholarship holders. As with those other categories no higher salary scale can be granted.
Within this salary scale WM1 one will receive the salary corresponding with the so-called pecuniary seniority that has been granted.
This pecuniary seniority is granted at the moment of recruitment and is calculated on the previous periods of employment. The following forms of employment are eligible for this calculation:
- Periods as assistant, as scholarship holder, as holder of a mandate from FWO, IWT, IWONL, … or as mandate holder from another comparable institution for scientific research recognised by the Flemish Government.
- Periods of employment in another statute at a Flemish university as far as it concerns a position comprising scientiifc activities. Taks of practice-related eduction are also taken into account.
- Periods of formally permitted scientific activities as volunteer at a university within the Flemish Community.
- On condition that the activities involved are demonstrable and are deemed sufficiently relevant at the moment of recruitment by UGent:
- Periods of employment at a university outside Flandres, or at another Belgian or foreign scientific institution as far as it concerns a position comprising scientiifc activities and as far as the university authorities recognise these activities as such.
- Periods of demonstrable scientific activities at a university college of the Flemish Community, on condition that they are deemed relevant.
- Periods of demonstrable other (scientific) activities at a Belgian of foreign company or knowledge institution, on condition that they are deemed relevant.
Please note: the above periods of previous employment are only fully taken into account for the pecuniary seniority when it concerns an employment of at least 50%. When the employment was less than 50%, then only half of this period is taken into account. E.g. two years of 40% employment (deemed relevant) at a R&D department of a company will be taken into account as 1 year of pecuniar seniority at the moment of recruitment by UGent.
However: employment as contractual scientific staff at UGent, before as well as after the start of the new policy, will always be taken into account for their full duration, regardless of employment percentage, to calculate the pecuniary seniority. So in this case no difference is made between employment of more or less than 50%. E.g. two years of 40% employment as contractual scientific staff at UGent will be taken into account as two years of pecuniary seniority.
The pecuniary seniority is expressed in years and full calendar months. The start of pecuniary seniority after recruitment by UGent is always on the first of a calendar month. If employment by UGent does not start at the beginning of a month, than seniority will be counted starting the first of the next month.
During the period of employment as scientific staff member in group 1 with a labour contract supplementary pension rights are being granted following the supplementary pension plan that has been implemented since 2016 for members of administrative and technical staff with a labour contract.
This means that UGent will pay a monthly contribution to a specially designated pension fund. The amount of this additional contribution is calculated as a percentage of the salary paid to the employee. This percentage depends on the specific seniority eligible for the supplementary pension of the staff member involved. This contribution will then be capitalised in the pension fund (and so will generate interest) following the rules of the supplementary pension plan.
At the moment of retirement the total amount of supplementary pension that will have been accumulated this way will be paid to the beneficiary. Depending on the amount and the choice of the beneficiary this supplementary pension can be paid at once, or as a monthly allowance.
Please note: for people who were employed as contractual scientific staff member at UGent on January 1st 2019 (and who did not have a permanent contract through which they would already have been a beneficiary of the old supplementary pension plan) UGent will retroactively pay contributions to the supplementary pension fund for all periods as contractual scientific staff at UGent starting from January 1st 2016.
Only possible reasons to end the employment
At the end date as mentioned in the labour contract in the clause of maximum duration.
Change of information based on the amendments approved by the board of governors on March 26th 2019: In this case the employment ends ont the date as mentioned in the clause of maximum duration of the contract. UGent will send a notification by e-mail or postal mail to the scientific staff member at least 6 months before this date.
Dismissal after a negative evaluation
The member of contractual scientific staff in gorup 1 receives a first evaluation 1 year after recruitment. After this every two years a new evaluation will be organised.
Apart from these evaluation moments there is also a feedback conversation between staff member and budget holder at least once a year. These conversations are intended as a moment of reflection, individual coaching en career guidance for the scientific staff member involved, aiming to further improve the work and the achievements. A written report of this feedback conversation is made if the scientific staff member or the budget holder request this.
The evaluation is conducted based on a reflection report written by the scientific staff member (this may be the same as the annual progress report for the doctorate), and an evaluation conversation between the staff member and the budget holder. The final evalution is made by the budget holder and consists of a concise evaluation report and a motivated conclusion as “very good”, “good”, “below expectations” or “insufficient”. For this the budget holder asks the advice of the other persons providing doctoral guidance as tipulated in the Education and Examination Code (= the second promotor, the doctoral guidance committee, …).
The evaluation report is formally handed over by the budget holder to the staff member within 14 calendar days. Should the staff member disagree on the final conclusion of the evaluation, then he or she can appeal to an appeal committee within a delay of 7 calendar days after having formally received the evaluation report.
The appeal committee consists of a chairperson (a professor), one committee member from each representative trade union (ACOD, ACV, VSOA), and an equal nimber of committee members representing university management among whom there will be at least one member of contractual scientific staff.
The appeal committee will at least hear the staff member and the budget holder, and will also ask advice from the department chair, of from the dean of the faculty should the department chair be the same person as the budget holder. After this the appeal committee will give a motivated advice on the final conclusion of the evaluation within 6 weeks after appeal has been filed. Finally this advice is submitted to the board of directors (“Bestuurscollege”) that will take a motivated decision.
In case of a final conclusion “insufficient” (= “onvoldoende”), c.q. when confirmed after appeal, the employment will be ended by UGent after a legal notice period.
Please note: appeal against the evaluation does not suspend the notice period (which starts after the evaluation by the budget holder), except when this would cause the employment to end before the appeal procedure has been concluded.
Dismissal following disciplinary action
After serious disciplinary offences dismissal can be imposed as a disciplinary action. The specific regulations for the disciplinary procedures still have to be negotiated with the trade unions. However these regulations will at least provide a prior written notice of the offences one is accused of, a prior hearing, and a possibility for appeal.
The staff member gives his or her resignation
The staff member who wishes to end his or her employment as member of contractual scientific staff at UGent can do so by giving legal notice following the requirements of the labour contract act. At the end of this notice period the employment ends. Should employee and employer reach an agreement on a shorter notice period, then the staff member may leave after this shorter period.
As giving your resignation (whether or not in mutual agreement with the employer) has important consequences, e.g. for unemployment benefits, we advise you to first contact your trade union before making such a step!
There is no implacement for contractual members of scientific staff in group 1. This means they do not receive priority for new vacancies for positions of scientific staff. However, as all members of scientific staff they too can apply for such a vacancy as soon as it is published in the internal round.
Should you have any other specific questions, you can always contact one of our delegates, or send an e-mail to