Teachers in public pre-school institutions are public servants. Recruitment of ECEC teachers is carried out in accordance with the Law on Preschool Education. ECEC teacher candidates apply for open recruitment positions published by pre-school institutions. Candidates are selected by the pre-school institution.
Entry to the profession and working conditions in pre-school institutions are determined by general labour legislation, legislation on public servants and specific legislation in the field of ECEC. Individual aspects such as organisation of induction period, professional licence exam, ECEC teachers’ promotion/advancement are stipulated by executive acts issued by the Minister of Education.
There is no planning policy that would regulate enrolment quotas for ECEC teachers and ECEC and teacher studies.
Higher education institutions are autonomous in their enrolment decisions. The university senate determines study capacity, enrolment policy, enrolment quotas, study standards and monitors their compliance. The senate consists of employees who have the scientific-teaching title with a total number of at least 60 % of the senate members.
In order to reduce the structural discrepancy between labour supply and demand, the Croatian Employment Service is drafting a Plan and methodology for monitoring, analysing and predicting labour market needs for individual professions and Recommendations for educational enrolment policy, which are forwarded to the competent ministry and county departments for the purpose of planning the enrolment policy. Likewise, at the county and national level, the so-called requested professions are identified for the purpose of financial credit, scholarships, accommodation in pupil and student dormitories and promotion of professions for which there is a reduced interest of pupils and students.
The number of educational staff and the number of students in the class department and educational group is determined by the following documents:
- State Pedagogical Standard of ECEC (OG, No. 63/08., 90/10.)
- State Pedagogical Standard of Primary Education (OG, No. 63/08., 90/10.)
- State Pedagogical Standard of Secondary Education (OG, No. 63/08., 90/10.)
Entry to the profession
In Croatia, the employment of ECEC teachers is carried out according to the open recruitment model and in accordance with the Act on Preschool Education (Zakon o predškolskom odgoju i obrazovanju). The Governing Board of the kindergarten makes a decision on announcing a vacancy notice. The competition is published on the website and bulletin boards of the Croatian Employment Service, as well as on the website of the kindergarten. Any person who meets the conditions of the competition can apply, and the person for whom this is their first job is employed for a fixed period of one year, but with the condition that he/she passes the professional exam within a year. Exceptionally, an employment relationship may be established by an employment contract without a public tender (The Act on Preschool Education (Zakon o predškolskom odgoju i obrazovanju), Article 26, paragraph 4)
- when the performance of work is not delayed, until the employment is established on the basis of a competition, but not longer than 60 days;
- when the need to perform work does not last longer than 60 days.
Novice pre-primary teachers spend one year (12 months) of induction period in the kindergarten supervised by their mentors. The manner of organisation of induction period and obligations of kindergartens and interns/ novice ECEC teachers are regulated by a special Ordinance on the manner and conditions of taking the professional exam of ECEC teachers and other professionals in preschool institutions prescribed by the Ministry of Science and Education (Pravilnik o načinu i uvjetima polaganja stručnog ispita odgojitelja i stručnih suradnika u dječjem vrtiću).
The internship programme is proposed by the kindergarten internship committee and adopted by the authorized professional body of the ECEC institution in which the novice teacher is employed (educational council). The internship committee consists of the kindergarten principal (as president of the Committee), a mentor, and one educational specialist (pedagogue, psychologist, experts in the field of education and rehabilitation or speech). The Commission is appointed by the principal of the ECEC institution.
Mandatory contents of the internship programme are:
- the legal framework of ECEC teacher work (the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, Preschool Education Act, National Curriculum for Early Childhood and Preschool Education, as well as other legislation and regulations);
- specific characteristics, needs and dynamics of a child’s development up to compulsory school age
- aims and procedures of care education and upbringing of young children
- organising resources for educational processes with young children
- relationships and communication among professional staff, children and parents
- planning, programming, preparation, realisation, and evaluation of educational programmes.
Mentors, usually, are not offered any specialised training in mentoring.
After the completion of the induction period, novice pre-primary teachers take the professional licence exam. After this exam, they get full responsibility as professional pre-primary teachers.
ECEC teachers and teachers in public preschool and school institutions are public servants.
Employment and conditions of work in preschool and school institutions as well as their rights and duties are defined by the following:
- Labour Act (OG 93/14., 127/17., 98/19.);
- Primary and Secondary School Education Act (OG 87/08., [133/20.]);
- Act on Salaries in Public Services (OG No. 27/01., 39/09.);
- Basic Collective Agreement for Civil Servants and Employees in Public Services (OG 128/17., 47/18., 123/19., 66/20.);
- Collective Agreement for Employees in Secondary Schools (OG 51/18.);
- Collective Agreement for Employees in Primary Schools (OG 51/18.);
- Ordinance on Weekly Duties of Teachers and Expert Associates in Primary Schools (OG 34/14.)
- Ordinance on Promotion of Teachers, Expert Associates and Headmasters in Primary and Secondary Schools and Student Dormitories (OG 68/19., 60/20., 32/21.)
The employment contract is usually concluded for employment on a permanent basis, but it can also be concluded for a limited period of time. Employment can be full-time and part-time. An employment contract can be signed with several preschool or school institutions if there are not enough hours for full-time work in one school or preschool institution. Regardless of the duration of the contract or the number of hours, the contract sets out certain legal and collective agreement rights.
The employment contract may be terminated by agreement or the employee may unilaterally terminate the contract. Where legally possible, the preschool or school institution may also terminate the contract.
In accordance with the Primary and Secondary School Education Act (OG 87/08, [133/20]) and collective agreements, the headmaster, as the head of the institution, is obliged to ensure a replacement of a temporarily absent teacher. If it is not provided and there is a need for the teacher to work overtime, the headmaster may impose additional workload or additional hours. The employee is entitled to an increased salary due to overtime work. If a replacement is organised and the other teacher has done the above-mentioned tasks, then he/she is entitled to an increased salary due to overtime work.
In order to ensure the replacement of teachers, preschool and school institutions use different measures. Sudden or short absences are usually addressed by replacing the absent colleague with a full-time teacher.
In the event of a prolonged absence of a teacher, the preschool or school institution may employ a new teacher. This is the case with maternity leave or long illness. A teacher who is employed for a certain period of time as a replacement obtains the status of a public servant and has the same rights and duties that he/she can exercise during his/her employment.
According to the State Pedagogical Standard of ECEC (Državni pedagoški standard predškolskog odgoja i naobrazbe) specialist support staff in Croatian ECEC institution includes a pedagogue, a psychologist and an educational-rehabilitation expert (i.e. a speech therapist or an educational rehabilitator). These professionals provide support to children, parents and ECEC teachers.
Specialist support staff are obliged to spend 25 working hours per week in direct pedagogical work with children, ECEC teachers and parents, and other tasks within the hourly rate up to full working hours (40 hours per week).
The number of specialist support staff with regard to the number of educational groups or the total number of children in pre-primary institutions is as follows (State Pedagogical Standard of ECEC (Državni pedagoški standard predškolskog odgoja i naobrazbe)):
- for 10 educational groups or 200 children, one full-time specialist support staff member
- for 11 to 20 educational groups or up to 400 children, two full-time specialist support staff (of different profiles)
- for 21 to 30 educational groups or up to 600 children, three full-time specialist support staff (of different profiles).
If educational groups with a special programme for children with disabilities or programmes for gifted children are established in the ECEC institution, the number of specialist support staff is increased by 0.10 working hours per educational group per week. The number of specialist support staff can be increased due to special educational needs of children, dislocation of facilities and the diversity of programmes implemented in the ECEC institution.
The profile of the specialist support staff is selected by the ECEC institution based on the needs of the children and the programmes it implements. In the selection of specialist support staff, it is necessary to respect the multidisciplinarity of the team of specialist support staff (pedagogue, psychologist, and experts in the field of education and rehabilitation). If the ECEC institution does not employ any specialist support staff members, resources in the local community are used. However, such cooperation is not specifically defined by law.
The Act on Salaries in Public Services (OG 27/01, 39/09) stipulates that the salary of servants and employees is a multiplication of the job complexity coefficient of the workplace to which the servant and employee are allocated and the salary base, plus 0.5 % for each completed year of service.
According to the Agreement on the Allowances in Education and Science concluded by the Government of the Republic of Croatia and representatives of trade unions, employees in education and science have the right to an allowance on top of their basic salary in the amount of 13 % of the contracted salary.
For primary, general lower secondary and general higher secondary education the decision on the basic salary of teachers is made at the national level, while for ECEC the decision is made by the bodies at the local/municipal level.
The annual gross salary of full-time teachers in public schools is HRK 114,308.00, or EUR 15,241.00.
The average number of years a teacher must have to obtain the maximum basic salary is 40 when the gross annual salary of a full-time teacher is 136,487.00 HRK or 18,198,00 EUR.
The Basic Collective Agreement for Civil Servants and Employees in Public Services (OG 128/17, 47/18, 123/19, 66/20) stipulates the increase of basic salaries of employees by 8 % if the employee has a scientific degree of Master of Science, or by 15 % if the employee has a scientific degree of doctor of science.
Furthermore, for teachers working with students with special needs or in difficult conditions, the hourly wage for each hour held is increased by 7-10 % of the regular hourly rate, depending on the class structure and number of students with special needs.
Teachers working overtime receive appropriate remuneration, each overtime hour is paid as 1,5 regular working hours.
Sick leave allowance If the employee is absent from work due to sick leave for up to 42 days, he/she shall be paid a salary in the amount of 85 % of his/her salary realised in the previous three months immediately before he/she started sick leave. The employee is entitled to a remuneration of 100 % of the amount of his/her salary in the previous three months immediately before the start of sick leave when he/she is on sick leave due to occupational illness or occupational injury.
According to the Primary and Secondary School Education Act, Art. 99, the school employee referred to in paragraph 3 of this Article for performing tasks on an EU project or EU funds exercises the right to an increase of the salary in the amount of 30 % in relation to the salary he/she would receive by performing the tasks of his/her job, which is calculated and paid for working hours on the project tasks during the period he/she performs project activities.
The allowance for double shift work is 10 % of the daily wages of employees, and an employee who performs work during two shifts in one day with a break longer than 90 minutes is entitled to this allowance.
School employees sent on an official trip are entitled to travel and subsistence expenses and the full amount of accommodation costs.
The employee is entitled to reimbursement of the costs of transport of arrival to and departure from work provided that the distance from his/her place of residence to the place of employment is at least two kilometres. In case of organised public transport which is not used by an employee, the employee will be entitled to reimbursement of transport costs, which will be paid for each month in the amount of 1/12 of the annual ticket price if there is the possibility of purchasing an annual ticket, or in the amount of the monthly ticket if there is no possibility of purchasing an annual or a monthly ticket.
Furthermore, school employees are entitled to a holiday allowance, Christmas bonus, a gift for St. Nicholas' day and a jubilee award for work depending on the number of years of service.
More detailed information is available in the report Teachers' and School Heads' Salaries and Allowances in Europe 2019/2020.
Working time and holidays
According to the Ordinance on Weekly Duties of Teachers and Expert Associates in Primary Schools (OG 34/14, 40/14, 103/14, 102/19), the total weekly duties of teachers and expert associates in school are determined in the 40-hour working week by annual plan and work programme in accordance with the national and school curriculum.
Weekly working hours are distributed to five days a week, as a rule from Monday to Friday, except for part-time work, in which case the weekly working hours may be distributed to less than five working days. The lesson lasts 45 minutes.
The headmaster shall issue a decision on weekly and annual duties to each teacher and expert associate on:
- activities of direct educational work with students,
- other activities arising from direct educational work, the performance of activities and tasks from curriculum or school curriculum, the obligation of professional development and other regulations,
- special tasks arising from the organisation of schoolwork and provisions of the Act.
The same Ordinance stipulates that teachers from 1st to 4th grade are obliged to teach classes and perform other forms of direct educational work with students in the amount set by the curriculum for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade and other activities (additional classes, remedial classes and/or extra-curricular activities) within the hourly rate up to full working hours. The weekly standard for expert-methodical preparation is 30 minutes per hour of regular instruction except for two hours of homeroom class which are recognized as regular instruction.
The weekly work obligation of subject teachers in direct educational work with full-time students is for:
- teachers of the Croatian language, the language of national minorities, mathematics and subjects that are performed in all classes 1 hour a week: 22 hours
- teacher of foreign language and teacher of classical languages: 23 hours
- teacher of other subjects: 24 hours.
According to collective agreements, the annual holiday of teachers usually coincides with the holiday of students. The duration of annual leave of school employees shall be determined by adding annual leave days to 4 weeks or 20 working days according to the following criteria:
- according to the working conditions (1-2 days)
- according to the task complexity (1-4 days)
- according to the years of work (2-8 days)
- according to the special social conditions (1-3 days)
- according to the contribution at work (1-3 days).
The total duration of an annual holiday cannot be less than four weeks, nor more than 30 working days.
The school year begins on 1 September and ends on 31 August and has two terms. During the school year, students are entitled to a winter, spring and summer break. Educational work is usually carried out in at least 175 teaching days, that is, in 35 teaching weeks, and for high school students in final grades in at least 160 teaching days, that is, 32 teaching weeks. The school year, that is, the beginning and end of teaching time, the number of working days and the breaks of students for each school year are stipulated in the decision by the minister.
An employee shall be entitled to a paid leave during one calendar year up to a maximum of 10 working days in the following cases: the birth of a child, death or illness in the family, relocation, blood donation, participation in cultural and sports events, natural disasters.
An employee is entitled to a paid leave for education and/or professional development to which he/she was referred to by the employer for up to 5 working days per year.
An employee who is required to pass the professional exam shall be entitled to a paid leave for the preparation and passing of the exam. The employee is entitled to an unpaid leave during one year for the purpose of his/her own education and professional development.
The promotion/ advancement of ECEC teachers is regulated by the Law on Preschool Education (Zakon o predškolskom odgoju i obrazovanju) which defines that ECEC teachers can be promoted and acquire the position of mentors and advisors. The procedure, methods and conditions for promotion are prescribed by the minister responsible for education, according to the Ordinance on the manner and conditions for the promotion in the profession of ECEC teachers and other professionals in ECEC institutions (Pravilnik o načinu i uvjetima napredovanja u struci i promicanju u položajna zvanja odgojitelja i stručnih suradnika u dječjim vrtićima).
Promotion in the ECEC profession is based on three requirements: achievements in the direct educational work with children; achievements in professional activities alongside the work in ECEC institutions; and participation in continuous professional development (CPD). ECEC teachers with at least 6 years of work experience can apply for the title of mentor, and teachers with at least 11 years of work can apply for the title of advisor.
Ordinance on Promotion of Teachers, Expert Associates and Headmasters in Primary and Secondary Schools and Student Dormitories (OG 68/19, 60/20, 32/21) determines the levels and appropriate titles of teachers, expert associates and headmasters in primary and secondary schools and student dormitories, conditions and ways of their advancement to titles.
Teachers, expert associates and headmasters who have an appropriate level and type of education and the necessary pedagogical competences can advance to the following titles:
- expert adviser.
The title of mentor may be given to a teacher who, with an appropriate level and type of education, meets the following general conditions:
- passed professional exam;
- at least five years of work in a school institution performing the duties of a teacher with an appropriate type of education;
- continuous professional development lasting at least 100 hours in the last five years.
The title of adviser may be given to a teacher who, with an appropriate level and type of education, meets the following general conditions:
- passed professional exam, except in the case of exemption in accordance with the law;
- continuous professional development lasting at least 120 hours in the last five years;
- at least five years with the title mentor working as a teacher.
The title of expert adviser may be given to a teacher who, with an appropriate level and type of education, meets the following general conditions:
- passed professional exam, except in the case of exemption in accordance with the law;
- continuous professional development lasting at least 150 hours in the last five years;
- at least five years with the title adviser working as a teacher.
Mobility and transfers
Mobility of teachers (i.e. transfer from school to school) is not stipulated at the national level. If the teaching position is abolished, a teacher who has been declared redundant may be employed in another preschool or school institution and, in that case, has priority in recruitment compared to others who are competing for the job in a published competition. Such transfers involve the local level, i.e. the municipal education department. Teachers can receive a transfer to the administrative departments of the ministry of education, inspection or apply for the post of the school headmaster.
In accordance with the Primary and Secondary School Education Act (OG 87/08, (133/20)), the employment contract of the school employee is terminated in accordance with the general regulations on work. Furthermore, the employment contract is terminated when the school employee turns 65 years of age and has 15 years of pensionable service. The employment contract of educational staff defines a three months' notice period.
The start and termination of employment shall be decided by the headmaster with the prior consent of the school committee. If the educational inspector determines that the headmaster concludes or terminates employment contracts contrary to the legal provisions, he/she shall take measures within his/her jurisdiction.
If the authorised judgement of working ability determines that the employee is not able to correctly perform his or her obligations in educational work due to permanently damaged psychophysical health, he or she will be offered an appropriate position according to the remaining working capabilities. If the school does not have adequate positions, the employee's contract will be terminated due to personal reasons.
If a person employed in a school is validly convicted for one of the offences, the school as an employer may terminate the employment contract without the obligation to comply with the stipulated or agreed notice period. In this case, the employer may, by an extraordinary termination of the employment contract, within 15 days from the date of discovery of the final conviction, require the employee to stop working immediately during the notice period.
An employee who is employed under the condition of taking the professional exam within one year from the start of employment and fails to pass the professional exam within one year from the date of the start of employment, the employment shall cease at the end of the last day of the deadline for taking the exam.
Furthermore, an employee who is employed under the condition of acquiring pedagogical competences at a higher education institution within two years from the date of the start of employment and does not acquire pedagogical competences and fails to pass the professional exam within two years from the date of the start of employment, the employment shall cease at the end of the last day of the deadline for acquiring pedagogical competences and taking the professional exam.
Before the regular termination of a contract based on the employee's wrongful conduct, the employer must warn the employee in writing of obligations from the employment relationship and warn him of the possibility of termination, on the basis of documented established violations of obligations from the employment relationship, unless there are circumstances why it is not justified to expect the employer to do so.
Without the prior approval of the work council, that is, the trade union commissioner, the employer cannot terminate the employment contract or dismiss the employee with the offer of an amended contract to:
- an employee after 25 years of service with the same employer and 56 years of age;
- a woman breastfeeding a child;
- a parent, adopter or guardian of the child up to 7 years of age;
- a person whose work capacity has been reduced or whose loss of working capacity has been established in accordance with special regulations;
- a person who has been found, in accordance with special regulations, to have reduced working capacity with residual working capacity, reduced working capacity with partial loss of working capacity, complete loss of working capacity or immediate danger of reduced working capacity;
- single parent of a minor child;
- parent with three or more children up to 15 years of age or children in full-time education;
- parent of a child with developmental impairments.
Any employee whose employment contract is terminated and the reason for termination is not wrongful conduct is entitled to a severance package in accordance with the Labour Act.
Retirement and pensions
According to the Pension Insurance Act (OG 157/13, [84/21]), ECEC teachers and teachers are entitled to regular retirement in accordance with the general conditions of the Pension Insurance Act.
The right to a retirement pension is granted to an insured person when he/she turns 65 years of age and has 15 years of pensionable service. The right to early retirement pension is granted to an insured person when he/she turns 60 years of age and has 35 years of pensionable service.
Exceptionally, the right to a retirement pension is acquired by an insured person - a woman with 15 years of pensionable service; and
- in 2022 - 63 years
- in 2023 - 63 years and 3 months
- in 2024 - 63 years and 6 months
- in 2025 - 63 years and 9 months
- in 2026 - 64 years
- in 2027 - 64 years and 3 months
- in 2028 - 64 years and 6 months
- in 2029 - 64 years and 9 months.
The teacher's employment contract ends with the age of 65 and 15 years of pensionable service and the end of the school year in which he/she turns 65 years of age and has 15 years of pensionable service.