Report recommends changes to improve job security for teachers

Minister for Education to implement measures to cut reliance on short-term contracts and part-time work

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan said the recommendations would improve the situation for teachers on fixed-term contracts or working part time. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan said the recommendations would improve the situation for teachers on fixed-term contracts or working part time. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Teachers working part-time or on fixed-term contracts will have more job security under recommendations made by an expert group today, Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan has said.

The group, chaired by senior counsel Peter Ward, was established under the Haddington Road agreement on public sector pay and productivity.

Noting the concerns that had been expressed about casualisation in teaching, she said she intended to implement the recommendations from the beginning of the 2015 school year.

Some 35 per cent of teachers in the post-primary sector are on a fixed-term or part-time contract. The Minister said the corresponding figure for the primary sector was approximately one in 10. “This is not a tenable situation.”

Among the recommendations are that the qualification period for the granting of a so-called ‘contract of indefinite duration’ (CID) for teachers be reduced from a period of continuous employment in excess of three years, to a period in excess of two years.

The report says a teacher employed on such a contract “holds an employment status which is equal to that of a permanent teacher” and recommends that confirmation of this status “be notified to the entire school system”.

It also recommends that once a teacher has completed his or her first year of fixed-term employment in a school and the hours are available for that post for the following year, the position “should be automatically re-advertised by the school and a new recruitment process undertaken for the filling of the post for the second year”.

Teachers who qualify for a CID on the basis of two years’ employment should be liable to redeployment “in circumstances where their subject or subjects become surplus to the curricular requirements of the school in which they qualify for the (contract)”.

With regard to teachers covering for others on a career break or secondment, the report recommends that these individuals should not be disqualified from entitlement to a contract of indefinite duration on that ground.

“The exclusion that currently applies to a teacher covering for another teacher on career break or secondment should be abolished,” it states.

Upon the return of the teacher on career break, the teacher who provided cover and qualifed for the contract should be placed on the redeployment panel.

The report also recommends that a system be devised whereby teachers are permitted to split their employment between two schools “in appropriate cases”.

Ms O’Sullivan said the implementation of five other reforms was recommended over the medium to long term.

The measures do not involve additional costs to the Exchequer, she added.

Ms O’Sullivan said the reform would represent “a significant improvement in the job security and stability of employment for existing and future young teachers”.

“Ultimately, this will benefit not only individual teachers, but our education system as a whole.”