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Eurydice

EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Belgium - French Community

9.Teachers and education staff

9.2Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 4 March 2024

As far as early childhood care facilities are concerned, staff conditions of service (including working time and leave) are governed by Joint Committee 332 (private sector) or by the statutes corresponding to the responsible public body (public sector).

Teachers’ rights and obligations are defined in the statutes specific to each network. The administrative and pay status of teaching staff are determined by the government. Collective labour agreements govern changes to this administrative and pay status as well as working conditions. The recruitment, selection and allocation of teachers as well as the day-to-day management of their careers lie within the powers of the individual controlling authority, as employer, but are subject to the approval of the French Community.

In schools administered by the French Community, the decision-making body in each case is/are the Minister(s) in charge. However, the school management may state its opinion. In public grant-aided schools, staff members are employed by the municipal or provincial authorities. Finally, in independent grant-aided schools, employers and employees are bound by an employment contract. The employer is a controlling authority legally constituted in the form of a non-profit association (asbl).

A local consultation committee (CoCoBa) is set up in each school organised by the French Community. It is composed of staff members and trade union representatives. Its principal mission is to provide consultation on staff working conditions. It verifies that the school plan conforms to the educational plan set by the controlling authority.

Local Joint Committees (CoPaLoc) for grant-aided schools have been established for institutions of pre-secondary, secondary and higher education. The representatives of the controlling authorities and trade unions that sit on these Committees define staff working conditions and intervene, in particular, in cases of temporary appointments of teachers, redeployments and assignment changes, when a school is taken over by another controlling authority; or to administer the use of the ‘period endowment’ in pre-secondary education (the total number of teacher-periods allocated to the school on the basis of the number of pupils regularly enrolled in the school on 15 January prior to the start of the school year) and the NTPP in secondary education (the total number of teacher-periods allocated on the basis of the number of regular pupils). They set school opening and closing hours. They verify that the school plan conforms to the educational plan set by the controlling authority. They are also consulted on other questions. In grant-aided independent education, a similar role is played by the works council, a local consultation body or the trade union delegation.

Planning policy

For non-school childcare facilities, various measures have been taken to increase the provision of childcare while maintaining its quality.

Subsidised and not subsidised centre-based childcare settings
The programming of subsidised centre-based childcare settings is an (important) part of the Stork Plan (Plan Cigogne). The Stork Plan covers both subsidised and not subsidised places, centre-based and home-based places.
In order to create childcare places, the type of place is therefore taken into account : the opening of subsidised centre-based places must be programmed : the Stork Plan III provides for the subsidisation of new childcare places, for which significant budgetary resources were made available for this purpose by the French Community, in partnership with the Regions, the COCOF, ... 
Not subsidised places are encouraged and accompanied by the ONE (Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance = Birth and Childhood Office) (information made available to potential promoters, information sessions for them, preparation process, etc.).
Programming is not planning. These programmings represent more than 81% of the places in the Stork Plan III (5,200 places out of the 6,400 planned per phase of the Plan).
A programming for the opening of subsidised centre-based childcare settings, entitled Stork Plan III, has enabled 172 projects to be carried out by the end of 2020 (156 by the end of 2019, 135 by the end of 2018 and 90 by the end of 2017) for 3,862 places opened (3,352 places by the end of 2019, 2,625 places by the end of 2018 and 1,685 places by the end of 2017)

Home-based provision subsidised by ONE
In 2020, childminders are present in the statistics of the sector. They reinforce the care offer proposed to families.
 

There is no planning of needs for teaching staff.

However, since 1 September 2016, the Inter-network Commission for Capacity Titles (CITICAP) is responsible for submitting to the Government a proposal for a list of functions in shortage each year. This list is based on objective numerical indicators such as the number of teachers who do not have a qualification as provided for in the regulations, the number of job offers published on the Primoweb online application, etc.

Entry to the profession

Non-school childcare facilities

The ONE is organized by a decree aimed at strengthening the quality and accessibility of early childhood education and care in the French Community. It is a care provided by professionals, from the end of maternity leave until schooling, outside their living environment and the presence of parents. This care responds adequately to the daily and educational needs of each child, and contributes jointly with the parents to the child's overall development, while enabling them to reconcile their parental and professional responsibilities with their social commitments.
Every organising authority must have received an authorisation from the Office for each childcare setting, which is valid for the entire duration of its operation in accordance with the conditions for granting authorisation set out in the legislation :
- The identification of an organising authority ;
- The type of childcare venue ;
- The identification of the venue or number of places ;
- The date of authorization ;
- The opening date ;
- The authorised capacity.

The ONE issues the authorisation after checking that the conditions for granting it have been met.

If the childcare service is provided by a legal entity, the authorisation is given to the Organizing Authority which then has to recruit its own personnel (childcare workers) in respect of the applicable regulations. All personnel working in childcare facilities must provide the documents below, in addition to staff qualifications and contracts :

- an extract from the criminal record exempt from any conviction for moral offences or violence against minors ;

- proof of rubella immunity status ;

- proof that there are no signs of physical or psychological affection that could represent a danger for the children in care.

Independent childminders and childcare staff in childcare services and crèches are between the age of 18 and the legal pension age (67).

For the position of director appointed by an organising authority (with the exception of the independent childminders), the person must be at least 21 and no more than 67 years of age.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education (ordinary and specialised)

General conditions

Article 25 of the Decree of 11 April 2014 regulating the titles and functions in pre-primary, primary and secondary education organised and subsidised by the French Community defines first-time recruitment as follows and specifies that :

"By first-time recruitment, we mean all the recruitment of candidates, for posts to be filled, whatever the duration, in determined functions which cannot be entrusted by the Authority (in the case of education organised by the French Community) or by the Organising Authority (in the case of education subsidised by the French Community), to members of staff, in compliance with the order of devolution of posts fixed by each administrative statute".

In order to recruit for the first time, the Organising Authority (the employer) must therefore have a job to be filled for which there is no member of staff with statutory rights enabling him to claim this job.

In order to find the candidate for first-time recruitment, the Organising Authority can either draw on its own pool of candidates or consult the Primoweb online application at the level of the three education networks. Since 1 September 2020, consultation of the online application has only been mandatory in the case of recruitment of a member of staff with a title not listed in the regulations.

In application of article 12bis of the law known as the "school pact" (1959), the various titles listed in the regulations are prioritised into required, sufficient and shortage titles but, from 1 September 2020 until 1 September 2023, the required title will be considered on an equal footing with the sufficient title for first-time recruitment. This means that an Organising Authority will only be able to recruit an applicant with a shortage qualification if it does not have an applicant with a required or sufficient qualification at the time of the first-time recruitment.

In the education network organised by the French Community, there is also an official mechanism for calling for candidates. Within this framework, each year the Directorate-General for Education Staff organised by the French Community (DGPEOFWB) recruits several hundred (future) teachers and candidates for various other technical or administrative posts for the many posts to be filled in its pre-primary, primary, secondary, higher education and related institutions.

The decree of 5 June 2014 relating to the functions, qualifications and scales determines and classifies recruitment functions for pre-primary, primary and secondary education organised and subsidised by the French Community. A 1968 royal decree determined selection-grade, and promotion-grade positions in schools maintained by the French Community. The statutes for grant-aided networks refer to these classifications. In compliance with the law of 22 June 1964 concerning the status of civil servants, candidates who are not Belgian or European Union nationals must request an exemption. According to the law on linguistic policy in education, they must demonstrate advanced proficiency in the language of instruction.

The decree of 11th April 2014 lists in a comprehensive manner the functions that can be activated in pre-primary and primary education. 
These are the following functions :
1° pre-primary teacher ;
2° primary teacher ;
3° teacher.
This function of teacher is declined according to different specificities, in particular teacher of religion or teacher of morals; psychomotricity teacher; teacher of manual work, of musical education, of physical education; teacher of second language; teacher of sign language, ...

In pre-primary education, the recruitment-grade positions are those of pre-primary school teacher, psychomotricity teacher and childcare worker.

As regards the function of Psychomotricity teacher, it is article 3bis of the decree of 13 July 1998 organising pre-primary and primary education that sets out the titles.  These include :
- Graduate in physiotherapy ;
- Bachelor : pre-school teacher or pre-primary school teacher ;
- (Advanced) Bachelor in Psychomotricity ;
- Bachelor: Lower secondary teaching diploma, physical education ;
- Master in Motor Sciences: Physical Education ;
- Bachelor: Youth Worker Specialised in Social and Sports Activities ;
- Master in physiotherapy (and rehabilitation) ;
- ...
 

In primary education, the recruitment-grade positions are :

  • primary school teacher (teaches general courses, physical education courses, and courses in a second language) ;
  • religion or ethics teacher ;
  • handicrafts teacher, music education teacher, physical education teacher, psychomotricity teacher ;
  • second language teacher.

Adaptation specialists are teachers responsible, in particular, for formative assessment and differentiated teaching to enable every child to progress at his or her own pace.

The ethics teacher is a staff member who is responsible for ethics courses. The religion teacher is the teacher in charge of religion classes. In independent denominational grant-aided schools, the course in religion may be taught by the head teacher. To teach physical education in primary schools, and to be able to claim a required title under the regulations, a physical education teacher must either hold a lower secondary teaching diploma (physical education section), or a primary teaching certificate supplemented by a certificate of capability to teach physical education in primary schools or a Master's degree in Motor Sciences. A second language teacher responsible for teaching a modern language must hold a lower secondary teaching diploma (Germanic languages section) or a primary teaching diploma supplemented by a certificate of advanced proficiency in the language to be taught, to be able to claim the required title.

The main recruitment-grade positions in lower and upper secondary education are general course teacher, technical course teacher, religion teacher, ethics teacher, and vocational practice teacher.

With regard to immersion education, a decree dated 17 July 2003 defines the additional conditions relating to knowledge of the immersion language. The basic capacity titles are identical to those provided for non-immersion functions as defined by the aforementioned decree of 11 April 2014.

Admission and appointments in the network organised by the French community

In the education organised by the French Community, staff members’ positions in the various institutions are classified by level. Within each level, there are recruitment-grade, selection-grade, and promotion-grade positions. Every career commences with a recruitment-grade position.

There are three steps within each grade: temporary, priority temporary and permanent. To apply for a temporary position, it is necessary to meet specific age and credential requirements in addition to the general prerequisites for public service employment. Every year, a call for candidates is published in the Belgian Official Gazette. Temporary recruitment-grade candidates must follow a standard procedure to apply (since 2011, the first step in the process has been conducted online). They are then prioritised – with the principal criteria being the number of applications introduced in the preceding years and prior length of service. Designation as a temporary teacher may be for a very variable length of time: anywhere from several days (replacement) to one or sometimes several entire school years. As a rule, candidates with the highest priority are selected for long-term appointments. Temporary teachers are placed on leave of absence from July 1 to August 31.

A temporary teacher with 300 days of service in the function applied for during the past three years (including the year of the call for candidates) may apply to become a priority temporary teacher. The number of days of service required may vary depending on the function. Every year, the Minister of Education determines the number of days worked in each grade that are needed to be designated a priority temporary teacher. To enter this grade, the candidate must also obtain a ministerial nomination. The Minister does not grant this status to all eligible applicants; some leeway is retained to control for trends in employment in schools administered by the French Community.

The designated temporary staff member’s school head may compile a report about the person. Any priority temporary teacher may be appointed on a permanent basis within the same grade to a vacant position with working hours equal to at least one-third of the minimum number of hours required to create a full-time position. The Government of the French Community holds the power to appoint. In practice, temporary status can be retained for several years.

Admission and appointments in grant-aided education

In grant-aided education, responsibility for recruiting, appointing and if necessary dismissing staff members lies with the controlling authority. Those who so desire may submit an unsolicited application to the controlling authority of their choice. Recruitment rules are defined in the respective statutory decrees for each network (the local joint committees).

Teachers are hired initially as temporary personnel. The requirements to be met with a view to being hired as a temporary teacher are almost identical to those that apply in the French Community’s network. No one can be appointed on a permanent basis before the school head has reported a favourable service record. The applicable teaching personnel statute specifies other requirements that temporary staff members must meet before they can be appointed to a permanent position.

In public grant-aided schools, beyond the statutory rules, recruitment policies vary from one municipality or province to another. In independent grant-aided schools, in addition to the requirements prescribed by the Ministry, Catholic schools require teachers to adhere to the school's educational plan.

Induction

The decree of 7 February 2019 defines Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and organises the Master's degrees of Education, sections 1 to 5, the advanced Master's degree of Education and the advanced Master in the Training of Teachers. The diplomas issued provide direct access to the teaching profession.

Professional status

Non-school childcare facilities

In 2020, the number of registered childminders converted to employees continued to increase.  With this new status, this childminders benefit from social protection, paid holidays and holiday pay, but also more job stability. The aim will be that all childminders will eventually be employed under this status, subject to certain conditions :

- Proof of one of the required training courses (except for childminders already in employment) ;

- Free to enter into a full-time home-based work contract under the conditions of the project (10 hours a day, 5 days a week, 220 days a year) ;

- To work alone and to meet the infrastructure conditions for caring for 4 full-time equivalent children (max of 5 children simultaneously) ;

- Commit to pay the financial participation for his/her own children.

Ordinary and specialised pre-primary, primary and secondary education

Decision-making bodies for conditions of service

The administrative and pay status of personnel are determined by the political authorities for the French Community as a whole. Collective labour agreements govern changes to this administrative and pay status as well as working conditions. Rights and obligations are outlined in the statutes. Each controlling authority is responsible for day-to-day management.

In schools organised by the French Community, the decision-making body in each case is the competent minister. However, the school management is entitled to state its opinion. In public grant-aided schools, staff members are employed by municipal or provincial authorities and they have the rights and obligations defined in the statutes. In independent grant-aided schools, employers and employees are covered by an employment contract; the employer is a controlling authority legally constituted in the form of a non-profit association (asbl).

Professional status

In the French Community of Belgium, teachers are not civil servants; however, their conditions of employment are determined by a legal status similar to that of civil servants to some extent but different in other aspects. The French Community has regulated the legal status of teaching staff separately, depending on the network in which they teach. The duties outlined in the three statutes are almost identical. The statutes specify the following points in particular :

  • At all times, staff members must be concerned about the interests of the education system where they work. In schools maintained by the French Community, they must also uphold the interests of the State (of the French Community). As such, they must fulfil, in particular, the obligations imposed by laws and regulations, including employment regulations. Staff members are bound to absolute propriety both in their relations on the job and in their relations with the parents of pupils and the public ;
  • Staff members must provide the necessary services for the proper operation of their school to the extent established by the professional rules and regulations ;
  • Staff members must not disclose secret information to which they become privy in carrying out their duties ;
  • Staff members must not engage in any activities which contravene the Constitution or Belgian law, seek to compromise the country's independence, or jeopardise national defence or security; nor belong to any groups engaged in activities of this nature. They must inspire a sense of duty, respect for public institutions, and devotion to human rights and liberties.

However, the practical details of the duties imposed on members of staff may differ from one network to another. Staff members may not exploit their pupils for political propaganda purposes in any of the three networks, but staff members in schools organised by the French Community must in addition observe the principles of educational neutrality. Moreover, in grant-aided public schools, staff members may not exploit their pupils for religious or philosophical propaganda purposes.

Breaches of duty are subject to the disciplinary penalties set forth in the statutes (ranging from reprimand to dismissal).

Different steps may be identified in teachers’ careers.

Replacement measures

Non-school childcare facilities

Replacement measures specific to the staff working in childcare facilities are organised by the organising authority that hires them and in accordance with the legislation in force.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

The minimum number of consecutive days of absence of a class teacher in a primary or pre-primary school that will lead to the teacher’s being replaced varies with the size of the school or site and with the number of hours in the absent teacher’s timetable.

 
Full-time class teacher
Half-time class teacher
1 single class
Immediate replacement
Replacement
1 and a half classes
Immediate replacement
Replacement if absence lasts at least 6 calendar days
2 classes
Replacement if absence lasts at least 6 calendar days
2 and a half classes
Replacement if absence lasts at least 6 calendar days
Replacement if absence lasts at least 10 working days, or 6 working days in the case of absence due to illness or incapacity
3 classes and more
Replacement if absence lasts at least 8 working days , or 6 working days in the case of absence due to illness or incapacity
Sites with differentiated staffing
Replacement in the case of absence due to illness or incapacity once such absence has lasted at least 5 working days
Teachers of religion, ethics, a second language, or physical education, regardless of the number of classes
Replacement if absence lasts at least 10 working days, or 6 working days in the case of absence due to illness or incapacity

In addition, a teacher who is in training can be replaced under certain conditions.

The minimum number of working days absence of a teacher in secondary education that gives rise to a replacement is ten. However, at sites that benefit from differentiated staffing belonging to class 1 (the most disadvantaged), the replacement of members of staff on sick leave is authorised as soon as the absence is at least five days.

Support measures

Non-school childcare facilities

Support for activities of the childcare facilities for children aged between 0 and 12 is provided among others by childcare coordinators and advisers.

Their actions include providing information and support in projects to create new childcare facilities, promoting the quality of care, supporting childcare professionals in the implementation and evaluation of their practices, and monitoring compliance with operating standards with reference to the legislation in force.

This work is carried out in collaboration with other ONE stakeholders, such as the educational advisers, of whom there are nine for the French Community :

Their mission is to support the accompaniment of numerous actors in their reflection on the reception of children between 0 and 12 years old. Their work is based on the Chilcare Quality Code (Code qualité de l'accueil) and the references guides and the various associated tools.

Psycho-pedagogical support for the childcare quality in childcare facilities : in close collaboration with childcare coordinators and advisers, educational advisers offer more or less long-term individual or collective support (one or more childcare centres) aimed at guaranteeing the development of childcare quality and supporting reflective work with professionals.

Doctors/pediatricians, health referrals and pediatric advisors are involved in supporting preventive health in childcare centres and provide specific support in the area of "health in the community".

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

The decree of 8 March 2007 provided for the creation within the government of a Service for Pedagogical Advice and Support for Education in the French Community, and the provision of a Pedagogical Advice and Support Unit for each recognised organisation for the representation and coordination of the controlling authorities, placed under the organisation’s authority. The controlling authorities which are not affiliated to such a body may use the service mentioned above. The pedagogical advice and support service and units are respectively competent for institutions organised by the French Community and for institutions affiliated to the relevant organisation for representation and coordination.

The service and units are responsible for advising and supporting teachers, teaching teams and schools in whom or which the general inspection service has identified weaknesses or shortcomings. They are also responsible for :

  • supporting institutions in the definition of their school plan ;
  • placing their educational knowledge and experience at the service of educational and pedagogical teams at institutions or groups of institutions with a view to improving the quality of education given to pupils ;
  • supporting the introduction of programmes and educational innovations, in particular by informing educational and pedagogical teams about the content of educational reforms ;
  • supporting groups of teachers who jointly create teaching approaches or tools for their courses ;
  • taking part in the analysis of teachers’ training needs and making suggestions with a view to devising the institution’s collective and individual training plan ;
  • assisting institutions and educational teams in the self-analysis of the results obtained by their pupils during external evaluations not leading to certification.

In connection with these assignments, the pedagogical advice and support service and units must work to ensure educational continuity in the approaches undertaken during in-service training.

Some subsidised controlling authorities have their own ‘inspectors’ whose tasks may include support for teachers.

Salaries

Non-school childcare facilities

A review of the salary scales applicable to subsidised personnel at childcare facilities took place in 2018 (government decree of 06 November 2018). The following reference scales have applied since 1 July 2018 : for childcare workers and similar, from €14 356.35 (at the beginning of the career at age 18) to €20 429.15 (with 31 years of seniority); for psycho-medico-social support functions (nurses, social workers and similar, from €17 305.48 (at the beginning of the career) to €29 228.29 (with 29 years of seniority); for qualified nurses, from €15 097.22 (at the beginning of the career at age 18) to €25 068.12  (with 31 years of seniority). These reference scales are expressed with reference to an annual base of 100% (on 1/1/1990), the index figure currently being at 116.15 (base: 1996 = 100).

For working personnel, certain periods of time off work (educational leave, paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave, etc.) are treated as periods worked and taken into account when calculating seniority for salary purposes. It is possible to take account financially of any experience acquired by a newly engaged member of personnel, counting full- or part-time work done for institutions recognised, authorised or grant-aided by a public body in the non-commercial sector.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

The French Community pays the monthly salary of all teaching staff members directly, regardless of the network to which they belong. Salaries are calculated on the same basis in grant-aided schools as in schools administered by the French Community.

The salary scales used by the French Community do not belong to a matrix or linear system. The salary is determined by function, in relation to a job title. In the scale defined in this manner, the salary goes up, according to pecuniary seniority and services considered as practical experience, by predefined increases (annual and bi-annual increases of variable amounts). Salary supplements depend in particular on :

  • holding special diplomas ;
  • social programming (end-of-year bonus) ;
  • exercising a selection-grade, promotion-grade or better paid function.

Members of staff in pre-secondary, secondary, higher non-university and social advancement education are eligible for the reimbursement of the cost of public transport used for getting to work and for a contribution when they cycle to work.

Salaries depends upon various factors, and in particular the position held, the applicable status, the administrative situation, the required credentials, the nature and volume of work, the family circumstances, and seniority. Seniority compensation varies according to the pay scale. Periodic salary increases (annual or biennial) are granted up to a maximum amount. Calculation of seniority compensation takes the following into consideration :

  • all service in education, regardless of the network (grant-aided public or independent) ;
  • all public services and similar (full benefits) ;
  • relevant experience (for teachers of technical courses) ;
  • workload in terms of hours scheduled.

The only non-salary social benefit provided by the law is the right to free in-service education.

Salary is based on a pay scale and index. Teachers receive a net salary after various deductions (widows’ and orphans’ fund, extended health care insurance, deduction of taxes at source based on a withholding table). The maximum salary is reached after 27 years of teaching service in pre-secondary and lower secondary education and after 25 years in upper secondary education. However, since 2009 an additional interim increase has been granted to teachers at the top of the scale who are still working at the age of 57, and a second to such teachers who are still working at the age of 58.

The salaries of teachers working in pre-secondary education are aligned with those of lower secondary teachers. Primary and lower secondary teachers who hold a relevant master’s degree receive a salary which corresponds to that of holders of the upper secondary teaching diploma. The salary of a lower secondary school teacher is 1.24 times the GDP per capita and that of an upper secondary school teacher (in the general education stream) is 1.6 times the GDP per capita.

The Institute of In-Service Training organises a training module in education at pre-secondary or lower secondary level for holders of the upper secondary teaching diploma (AESS) and of a  university degree supplemented by the certificate of teaching proficiency (CAP) or the technical education teaching certificate (CNTM). Holders of these qualifications who hold the qualification required for a particular function in upper secondary education analogous to the corresponding function at lower secondary or pre-secondary level, as determined by the government, and who have successfully attended the above-mentioned training, will receive a salary corresponding to that of a holder of the upper secondary teaching diploma.

Working time and holidays

Non-school childcare facilities

Childcare settings, through the Organising Authority, have to appoint a director who has to be present in the childcare setting, and whose main functions are :
- ensure the administrative and organisational management of the childcare setting ;
- ensure the team and human resources management (recruitment, induction, evaluation, training plan, organisation of team work/schedules) ;
- support change in the teams (orientation of practices, ...) ;
- monitor, participate and coordinate the effective implementation of the childcare setting project, its evaluation and development, including its social and health aspects ;
- establish an approach to relations with parents and children that promotes accessibility for all and support for parenthood ;
- act as an interface with families, partners and local stakeholders, and develop actions that open up to the local community.

The worker hired in a childcare center subsidised by the Office for Birth and Childhood (ONE : Office de la naissance et de l’enfance), is hired under a permanent employment contract and holds a position subsidised by the ONE and in accordance with the provisions set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of 5 December 2005 or according to the statutory rules for public authority staff.  

Each Organising Authority sets the periods during which the childcare facilities are closed. The regulatory framework nevertheless provides for certain obligations with regard to the standards set out in the decree of 2 May 2019 setting out the authorisation and subsidy scheme for crèches, childcare services and independent (co-)childminders : crèches must open at least 10 hours a day between 6 am and 7 pm, 5 days a week and 220 days a year or 11 hours a day between 6 am and 7 pm, from Monday to Friday and 220 days a year.  Depending on the level of subsidy, this number of opening hours may be 11 ½ hours.

Childcare services

The childcare facilities (i.e. the salaried childminders) must offer a childcare service of at least 10 hours/day between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday to Friday, and a minimum of 220 days a year.

Staff who have signed an agreement are not obliged to do so.

Independent childminders

The minimum opening hours of 10h/day, 5 days/week and 220 days/year are only valid for those who are subsidised (250 euros per year and per place).

The others have no obligation except via their childcare contract.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

Working hours

The school year has 182 school days. The numbers of periods mentioned below concern teachers working full-time.

Under a decree issued on 13 July 1998 on the organisation of ordinary pre-primary and primary education and amending the teaching regulations, pre-primary teachers are required to teach 26 50-minute periods per week. A reduction to 22 periods can be approved in certain cases.

In primary education, full-time primary school teachers must teach 24 50-minute periods per week. This workload may be reduced to 22 periods in certain cases. Teachers of special courses, of second language, and of philosophical courses teach 24 periods per week.

At these two levels of education, teachers are required to hold at least 60 periods of consultation with their colleagues from pre-primary education and primary education (and secondary education, for primary education teachers). The number of consultation periods is reduced when the teacher does not work a complete timetable. The school head (or, for grant-aided schools, the controlling authority) may require teachers to perform monitoring duties 15 minutes before classes start and 10 minutes after they finish. Total hours worked (classes, monitoring, consultation) may not exceed 962 hours per school year or 1,560 minutes per week. The time devoted to class preparation, marking, parent-teacher meetings, etc. is not included in these statutory working hours. The head of school, the controlling authority and the inspector may ask to see documents substantiating the preparation of lessons and educational activities.

In ordinary secondary education, activities apart from teaching (lesson preparation, marking and assessment of pupils’ work, parent-teacher meetings, participation in festive activities for school projects, etc.) are likewise not included in the statutory working hours. However, the teacher-periods can be used by each secondary school for activities such as class council, class management and coordination, with a maximum of 3% of the total number of teacher-periods.

In the first and second years, in the third year of transition-stream education (general and technical), and in the third and fourth years of qualification-stream education (technical and vocational), teachers of general, technical, philosophical and special subjects teach 22 to 24 50-minute periods. In the fourth, fifth and sixth years of transition-stream education (general and technical), and in the fifth, sixth and seventh years of qualification-stream education (technical and vocational), teachers of general, technical, philosophical and special subjects teach 20 to 22 50-minute periods. In qualification-stream education, teachers of technical and vocational practice classes teach between 24 and 28 periods, and teachers of vocational practice classes teach between 30 and 33 periods. At lower secondary level, within the working hours set at 728 hours per year, teaching time may vary from 667 to 728 hours. At upper secondary level, the working hours for teachers of general subjects are set at 667 hours per year. Teaching time varies from 607 to 667 hours per year. Vocational training teachers work 1,001 hours per year. Their teaching time varies from 607 to 1,001 hours per year.

Special working conditions may be negotiated in institutions with differentiated staffing: for example, individual remediation hours may be included in the timetable, or there may be more time for consultation between teachers and for training.

In specialised education, working hours are governed by specific rules set out in the decree of 3 March 2004.

In specialised pre-primary education, full-time teachers teach 24 periods per week; in specialised primary education, a full week consists of 22 periods. The class teachers, monitors of educational activities, monitors of individual activities, as well as teachers of special subjects, second language, ethics and religion in primary education, also work other periods in addition to their classes: either 2 periods per week of class council (teachers who work 13 to 24 periods in pre-primary education or 12 to 22 periods in primary education) or 1 period per week (teachers who work 7 to 12 periods in pre-primary education or 7 to 11 periods in primary education). Beyond 7 periods, their obligations are limited to the transmission of required information.

In specialised secondary education, the work schedule for teachers includes courses, class council, work in teams, class management, and guidance/refresher training. Teachers of general courses, ethics courses and special courses teach 22 to 24 periods per week at the lower level and 20 to 22 periods per week at the upper level. At the lower level, teachers of technical and vocational practice courses teach 24 to 28 periods per week in forms 1, 2 and 3 of specialised secondary education, and 22 to 24 periods per week in form 4, except teachers of vocational practice for specialities other than fashion/garment-making and domestic economics in form 4 of the second stage, who teach 30 to 33 periods per week. At the upper level, teachers of technical courses teach 20 to 22 periods per week and teachers of vocational practice courses teach 30 to 33 periods per week, except teachers of vocational practice in the fashion/garment-making and domestic economics specialities, who teach 24 to 28 periods per week.

Holidays

The holidays for tenured teachers correspond to the school holidays. Holiday periods are counted as service activity periods. They may or may not be fully or partially paid. They count towards seniority. Some types of leave do not apply to temporary teachers.

In addition to ordinary holidays, a large number of categories of leave or leave of absence have been defined. A staff member may, in particular, benefit from the following types of leave :

  • personal holidays (death of a parent, moving house, marriage, birth, etc.) ;
  • exceptional leave in case of force majeure (illness or accident that affects a person living under the same roof, etc.), with a maximum of 4 days ;
  • maternity leave (birth or preparation), with a maximum of 15 weeks. This period can be prolonged in the event of multiple births ;
  • breast-feeding leave, with a maximum of 3 months: this is unpaid leave, but counts as a service activity period ;
  • adoption leave (adoption or unofficial guardianship of a child), with a maximum of 6 weeks ;
  • reduced schedule leave for personal reasons: maximum 12 months per occurrence with a maximum of 10 years over an entire career ;
  • reduced schedule leave for family or social reasons: maximum 12 months per occurrence with a maximum of 5 years over an entire career ;
  • reduced schedule leave at age 50 or for two dependent children under the age of 14, with a maximum of 5 years.

The different types of leave of absence include :

  • leave of absence for personal reasons – maximum 5 years ;
  • leave of absence for sickness or infirmity ;
  • leave of absence for lack of a job ;
  • leave of absence for job elimination in the interests of service ;
  • leave of absence for a special task ;
  • leave of absence for personal reasons prior to retirement (tenured teachers aged 55 years, who are not yet eligible for a retirement pension, can, under certain conditions, request that they be made redundant for personal reasons before retirement (DPPR) – their position then becomes vacant).

Under the regime of holidays and leave of absence for sickness and infirmity for certain members of the teaching staff, annual quotas (15 days, or even more for teachers aged more than 50 years) can be accumulated up to a limit of 182 days (which corresponds to the duration of a school year), during which the teacher on leave for sickness or infirmity has the right to receive a normal salary. In this respect, temporary teachers and definitive teachers have almost the same rights.

On medical advice, it can happen that the 15 working days of paid leave for sickness or infirmity are later transformed into leave for reduced services for sickness or infirmity or even (permanent staff only) redundancy for sickness or infirmity. In this latter case, retaining pay is awarded for three years (80% of salary in the first year, 70% in the second, and 60% in the third). A staff member who suffers from a serious long-term illness or infirmity retains the normal full remuneration with no restriction on the duration. The control of absence for sickness, following a government decision, has been contracted to a private company working on behalf of the Ministry of the French Community.

A decree adopted on 8 May 2003 defines the measures to be taken for female teaching staff when they are pregnant (the possibility of breastfeeding breaks, a ban on any additional work compared with the hours previously worked in the event of pregnancy or breastfeeding, etc.).

Promotion, advancement

Non-school childcare facilities

There are no possibilities for internal promotion of childcare workers or childminders who look after children at home.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

In the French Community of Belgium, all teachers are initially appointed for a recruitment-grade position. Prospects for promotion only concern positions that are higher up on the hierarchical ladder and further away from teaching practice. They consist of selection-grade positions such as deputy school head or head of workshop and promotion-grade positions such as school head, head of practical education, or inspector.

These last positions are generally reserved for tenured staff who have a certain length of service and are working in a position that, in principle, is full-time (half-time in independent grant-aided education). Moreover, for advancement it is also necessary to have already attended a training course in relation to the position to be awarded.

Apart from these promotion possibilities, there is no other way of recognising and rewarding teachers according to their performance.

However, teachers who are internship supervisors can be awarded the title of ‘education support officer’. This induction and support task carries recognition and pecuniary reward.

Mobility and transfers

Non-school childcare facilities

The possibilities of mobility within the childcare settings are organised on the basis of the decision of the Organising Authorities according to the demand of the work and depending on their administrative status and the employment contract.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

In education, there is a distinction between changes of assignment (in grant-aided education, within the same controlling authority), reassignments (within the same controlling authority after a redundancy or partial loss of workload), transfers (in grant-aided education, from one controlling authority to another), and recalls to active service. Reassignments and transfers must necessarily be voluntary. Different rules govern changes of assignment, depending on the staff member's position and on the network.

Under certain circumstances (a fall in the school population, rationalisation, etc.), positions occupied by permanent staff members must sometimes be eliminated. Such personnel are then laid off due to lack of a position, with full retaining pay for two years. They are usually redeployed on a permanent basis in positions occupied by temporaries. The number of teachers laid off due to lack of a position is high, resulting in significant variances between the number of teachers that should theoretically be employed and the number of employees actually paid.

Transfers from one school to another are covered by the regulations. The Area Councils for each network are involved in reassignment decisions. In grant-aided schools, the local joint committees are involved in transfers or assignment changes. Except for specific agreements, the transfer of a teacher from one controlling authority to another does not automatically result in a transfer of acquired rights in terms of seniority, which, in principle, determines the classification of candidates for an appointment or an engagement. Pecuniary seniority, however, is retained.

Dismissal

Non-school childcare facilities

Those responsible for looking after children in collective structures are subject to the rules on dismissal linked to their administrative status or their employment contract.

Registered childminders are still regarded as voluntary workers in employment legislation and do not benefit from any protection in the event of a ‘dismissal’. Salaried childminders are subject to the dismissal rules linked to their status. Independent childminders have self-employed status.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

The different types of status, modified by a decree adopted on 17 July 2003, define the conditions under which the services provided by temporary or permanent staff members can be terminated.

Automatic end of contract (with no notice period)

For education in the network organised by the French Community, it is appropriate to refer to appointments (not contracts): temporary, priority temporary or protected appointments in the case of compulsory education.

Appointments, hirings and contracts entered into with a temporary or permanent member of staff can be terminated automatically and without a notice period in the following circumstances in particular :

  • If the staff member has not been designated (temporary member of staff) or appointed (permanent member of staff) in a normal manner ;
  • If the staff member does not satisfy the conditions of his/her designation or appointment ;
  • If the staff member fails to resume his/her service without justification after an authorised absence ;
  • If the staff member leaves work without justification for more than 10 days ;
  • In the event of a premature invalidity duly confirmed under the conditions defined by the law and that prevents the staff member from fulfilling his/her task ;
  • In the event that the application of civil and criminal law entails the termination of his/her duties.

Moreover, a member of staff who has been appointed permanently could be subject to automatic resignation without a notice period if, when called back to active service, he/she refuses to perform the job assigned to him/her. In education organised by the French Community, professional inaptitude that has been definitely assessed (three consecutive annual review reports reporting insufficient performance) also leads to a definite termination of the activity.

The government or the controlling authority can dismiss any temporary or permanent member of staff without a notice period if he/she commits a gross fault. A gross fault is any failing that makes any further professional collaboration between the member of staff and the controlling authority immediately and definitely impossible. In the education in the network organised by the French Community, at compulsory education level, dismissal with notice is the only type possible, following a procedure in accordance with the employee’s status (either temporary on the one hand or priority temporary or protected on the other hand).

Preventive suspension

When the interests of the service or education require it, the temporary staff member can be preventively suspended (in the event of criminal proceedings or as soon as the government or the controlling authority serves notice of the observation of an incompatibility). For permanent staff, preventive suspension occurs in the event of criminal proceedings, before disciplinary measures are taken or if the staff is subject to such measures, or if an incompatibility is observed. This measure is purely administrative and is not a punishment. It is pronounced by the Government or the controlling authority and it has to be justified. A preliminary hearing is mandatory. The measure is taken for a maximum of one year, except in the event of criminal proceedings, when it may be extended until the date of the court’s decision. It may be confirmed in periods of three months, and a preliminary hearing is required before each confirmation.

In the case of gross fault where the person was caught in the act or when the accusations are of such a serious nature that it is desirable, in the interests of education, that the staff member be no longer present at the institution, the person can be immediately removed. Within ten working days following this measure (three working days in the independent grant-aided network), a preventive suspension procedure must be initiated.

Contract end with a notice period

Regardless of the network, a teacher who is designated on a temporary basis can, following a notice of 15 days (three months for a priority temporary teacher or a protected temporary teacher in the network of the French Community and for a teacher assigned to a vacant position in independent grant-aided education), be dismissed by the controlling authority following a justified proposal from the institution’s director or a responsible authority. Teachers can appeal against their dismissal and have a hearing with a board of appeal. Nevertheless, the statutes of the subsidised networks provide for automatic dismissal of a temporary teacher in the event of a gross fault.

Disciplinary sanctions

Several disciplinary sanctions can be imposed on permanently appointed teachers which result in a temporary or permanent suspension of activities: disciplinary suspension (maximum one year), disciplinary inactivity (duration of one to five years maximum) and automatic dismissal or resignation. No sanction can be proposed unless the staff member has been previously heard or questioned. The interested party can exercise the rights that are recognised by the union status, file a petition with the competent board of appeal, and arrange to be assisted, in particular, by a representative of a representative trade union.

Redundancy due to lack of a position

A permanently appointed member of staff in a principal function can be made redundant due to lack of a position or partial loss of workload by the Government or by the controlling authority only after the services provided by members of staff with a lower priority have been terminated. This teacher benefits from a priority for reassignment when the hours for the same position and the same courses become vacant, and from retaining pay.

Retirement and pensions

The pension regime remains a federal competence. The general rule is retirement at 65. A person retiring at age 65 receives 75% of the average salary during the last 5 years of service.  It should be noted that the pension age will be gradually increased from 2025.

Non-school childcare facilities

Within the framework of associative center-based settings, the worker of a center-based setting subsidised by the ONE can benefit from the ‘Tandem Plan’, as long as he or she has an employment contract of indefinite duration and holds a job subsidised by the ONE, in accordance with the provisions set out in the collective labour agreement of 5 December 2005.  This is an end-of-career measure managed by the Old Timer's Security Fund.  The scheme covers the introduction into work of a new worker to replace the hours left free by older workers. Under certain conditions, the older worker may reduce his/her work to half-time and receive half-pay, a time-credit allocation and a supplement paid by the Old Timer Fund. This arrangement is regulated by the Joint Committee 305 by collective agreement of 27 October 2010 on the harmonisation of scales and the matching of functions. 
In the public center-based settings’ sector, there is currently no specific measure for end-of-career adjustment, although discussions are underway between the partners concerned.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

In education, it is possible to retire early without necessarily receiving the maximum pension amount. The starting date of an early pension (i.e. before the statutory pension age) depends on several criteria. This date is set by the Federal Pensions Service, depending on the years taken into account for entitlement to a pension and the relevant career conditions.  Members of staff aged at least 55 who have at least 20 years of service can benefit from various measures of leave of absence for personal reasons before their retirement (DDPR).  For staff members born after 1 January 1957, there is a notion of a maximum period of availability on personal grounds prior to retirement pension (DPPR pot available). This period is calculated on the basis of the staff member's length of service. This notion limits the possibilities to take a DPPR.
Since 1 January 2009, an additional increase equivalent to the amount of the final two-year step in the relevant salary scale has been granted to any member of staff who is still working at the age of 57, provided he/she had reached the top of his/her salary scale by that date. A second increase is granted under the same conditions at the age of 58.
On the other hand, it is possible to continue working in education beyond the age of 65 in functions in shortage and beyond the age of 67 in functions in severe shortage.