On July 1, the Board of Governors of Ghent University approved new regulations regarding the ATP staff (administrative and technical staff) and a new way of working with contracts for the ATP. These regulations offer a solution to a number of problems which we, as a trade union, have been denouncing for years. Below you can find the following information:
- 1) What will change?
- a) From now on all ATP staff members will be allowed to apply for internal ATP vacancies
- b) Promotion will no longer be dependent on aptitude- and potential tests
- c) Uniform selection procedures for all ATP vacancies
- d) Permanent contracts ("contract van onbepaalde duur") will be offered as standard contracts to the ATP staff
- e) Conversion to permanent contracts for ATP staff members who are currently employed on temporary contracts
- f) Contractual ATP staff will have the right to benefit from the new pension scheme (aanvullend pensioenplan)
- g) The conditions for a dismissal of a contractual ATP staff member have been clearly determined
- 2) What are the next steps?
- For ATP staff ...
- For WP staff ...
- For other researchers ...
These changes are the result of long negotiations between the Board and the unions. We wish to thank the representatives of the university administration who contributed to this solution: the administrators ("beheerders"), the director of the DPO and the DPO staff who contributed to the revision of the regulations. As trade unions we hope that other unsolved issues will be solved in the same constructive manner in the future.
1) What will change?
a) From now on all ATP staff members will be allowed to apply for internal ATP vacancies
From now on all ATP staff members, regardless of the type of contract they hold, are allowed to apply for all internal ATP vacancies published by Ghent University. During the same meeting, the Board of Governors of the university also approved several new vacancies in the weeks to come. We advise the ATP staff who might be interested in these positions to register at the university website in order to receive notifications about newly opened vacancies. https://www.ugent.be/nl/vacatures/onlinesolliciteren.htm
b) Promotion will no longer be dependent on aptitude- and potential tests
The ATP staff members can from now on apply for both internal positions that are on the same level as their current positions and for positions on a higher level. Staff members who apply for internal positions on a higher level will no longer be required to take aptitude tests. The only requirement for staff members who apply for other internal positions on a higher level will be the minimum of two years of work at their current job level. In the future, the DPO will work on a new learning track for staff members. For the time being, however, all ATP employees can apply for internal positions on a higher level.
c) Uniform selection procedures for all ATP vacancies
All ATP applications, both for statutory and contractual positions, will be handled in the same way. There will be an objective selection procedure, organized entirely by Ghent University. Testing by the external agency (Hudson) will no longer be carried out.
d) Permanent contracts will be offered as standard contracts to the contractual ATP staff
From now on, a permanent contract will be the standard contract offered to the contractual ATP staff. Replacement contracts will still be offered, but only in cases when an ATP employee takes over the duties of an absent colleague. In all other cases the temporary contracts will be replaced by permanent contracts. Fixed-term contracts will be exceptional and only possible in cases of very specific functions and for a maximum period of 2 years.
e) Conversion to permanent contracts for ATP staff members who are currently employed on temporary contracts
Before the end of 2016, all ATP staff on temporary contracts who have worked at Ghent University for minimum two years will be offered permanent contracts. In many cases this will also be done for most ATP employees who have worked at Ghent University for less than two years, but there will be some exceptions.
The jobs of a number of temporary ATP employees were not classified at the correct job grades when these staff members were first recruited, or their salary has not been automatically increased during their employment at Ghent University. All such contracts will be reviewed:
- If employees hold positions which are classified on a lower level than they should be, then these positions will be re-scaled to a higher level and the salary of these employees will rise accordingly. The DPO will make a proposal, but the staff member has a right to appeal to a reassessment committee if s/he believes that their positions are scaled too low. Please contact your trade union if you need assistance with that.
- Also at the moment of this conversion the salary level of these employees will be checked. If the periodical salary increases of the ATP career model for these employees have not been correctly applied in the past, and they are on a lower salary level now, then this salary level will be increased for the future.
f) ATP staff will have the right to benefit from the new pension scheme ("aanvullend pensioenplan")
In May 2016 the Board of Directors decided that all contractual ATP employees will be granted the right to benefit from the new pension scheme. This change will be implemented before January 1, 2017 with retrospective effect from 1 January 2016. The DPO will contact the employees regarding this matter in autumn 2016.
g) The conditions for a dismissal of a contractual ATP staff member have been clearly determined
Finally, there will also be new procedures regarding termination of employment of contractual ATP staff. The arbitrariness in such cases will be excluded. The possibilities of dismissal will be reduced. An ATP staff member can be dismissed as a result of disciplinary proceedings or several negative evaluations. Apart from this, the contractual ATP employees can also be dismissed because of financial or organizational reasons. In such cases, however, a specific procedure of ‘implacement’ will be followed. According to this procedure, during a period of six months prior to the date of anticipated notice of dismissal, a new position at Ghent University will be sought.
2) What are the next steps?
We believe that these changes will eliminate a lot of injustices of the past. A number of issues are not yet resolved and will need to be further negotiated.
For the ATP staff ...
As far as the ATP employees are concerned, the problem of the lack of access to the pension rights in the past by those employees still has to be resolved. This is particularly urgent for the employees who have been working at Ghent University for a long time and will no longer be able to build up a decent pension in the coming years.
For WP ...
Talks with concerning the staff policy for scientific staff will be held in the autumn. The permanent contract must be, also for scientific staff, be the rule. Exceptions can be negotiated, but these must be clearly defined and motivated, and limited in time. When the exception criteria no longer are valid, the concerned staff members must be automatically given a permanent contract. Besides this, a policy must be elaborated on the conditions of ending a permanent contract.
More clarity is needed regarding the additional pension for the WP. Transitional measures should be implemented for the current scientific staff members. Lay-offs of staff that do no longer fall under the new rules should be avoided. In drafting this policy one will have to take into account the well-being of all personnel concerned. Recent events have shown how important this is.
The real tasks of scientific staff must be mapped. A number of scientific do research with the perspective on a PhD, while others play a role in service contracts or in the general support of research projects. Postdoctoral scientific staff could be working on their personal academic career, but might also function as labmanager or coordinator of research projects. It will be difficult to elaborate only one generic career model for all these different types of careers. All staff, no matter their daily tasks, need a career perspective on the long term.
For other researchers ...
There is a strong overlap between tasks being performed by contractual scientific staff who are working on their PhD on the one hand, and staff with a scholarships or who work as scientific assistants on the other hand. This overlap must be taken into account when a generic career model for scientists is elaborated. Also, the statute of researchers with scholarships should certainly be revised.
Researchers who are hired with the purpose of obtaining a doctorate should be given the opportunity to work on their dissertations. This means that they should be given sufficient time for their research, and they must be employed for at least four years. Early termination of employment should only be possible based on a clear assessment procedure.
If you have further questions, please contact us, e.g. by e-mail ACOD@UGent.be