The institutions responsible for decision-making concerning the conditions of service for teachers are: the Ministry of Education and Science, municipalities and education institutions. The Education Law, the Labour Protection Law and the Labour Law as well as a number of regulations issued by the Cabinet of Ministers determine conditions of service for teachers.
The Ministry of Education and Science is directly involved in developing planning policy. Various statistical data and analysis of labour market provided by the departments of the ministry and other competent institutions are taken into account. The planning policy is regular, as the number of all study places (thus also places in pedagogical programmes) financed from state budget is stated annually by the Minister after consultation with the Council of Higher Education. It observes trends in demographic situation like birth rate and migration as the planning policy is closely linked to the teacher/pupil ratio, and follows also other movements within the teacher profession like retirement and transfer to non-teaching posts in order to plan the demand and supply of teachers in the future.
Entry to the profession
Schools are responsible for the recruitment of teachers and play a direct role in the selection process; they publicize vacant posts, review applications and select candidates. Often school heads place announcements in local, regional or central newspapers as well as in the specialized newspaper for teachers Izglītība un kultūra (Education and Culture). Besides, a common practice is that the school head keeps in direct contact with teacher education institutions and places announcements directly at the institutions.
In order to have access to profession, general education teachers must have the required education and a teacher qualification in the respective level of education. Starting with 2003/2004, only teachers with higher education are entitled to work in schools thus only teachers with academic degree in pedagogy or higher professional qualifications obtained at levels ISCED 5 (for pre-primary education teachers) or ISCED 6 are employed. Various possibilities are provided for the teachers who, in accordance with these provisions, are not entitled to teach, to acquire the necessary qualification through in-service training, e.g. general secondary school teachers may work also if they have obtained academic education in the respective field of science and a teacher's qualification, or have started its acquisition within two years after they started to work as teachers. The latter option was introduced in order to enlarge competition as well as to fill vacancies in the teaching of certain subjects due to the ageing of teaching staff. Taking into account the lack of pre-primary school teachers, the recent amendments also prescribe primary school teachers as eligible to teach in pre-primary institutions.
The employment status of teachers is contractual. According to the Labour law, schools must sign permanent contracts with teachers.
The Education Law states who may not work as teachers:
- a person who has been punished for an intentional crime and has not been rehabilitated;
- a person whose capacity to act is limited in accordance with procedures prescribed in regulatory enactments;
- in educational institutions established by the state or local governments – a person who does not have a document (issued in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the Cabinet of Ministers) attesting to the command of the official language at the highest level except for academic staff of higher education institutions, namely, citizens of other states and stateless persons who are participating in the implementation of particular educational programmes on the basis of an international agreement as well as educators working at educational institutions or their branches founded by foreign states;
- a person who has been deprived, by a court decision, of parental authority.
However, according to recent amendment (July 2012) made by the Parliament, a person punished for an intentional crime will be allowed to work as a teacher only after getting of a special permission. The procedure on issuing of the permission and evaluating of person’s suitability for work in a school will be developed by the Cabinet of Ministers.
There is no official induction period for new teachers in Latvia apart from purely administrative periods before the acquisition of a full contract. New teachers may receive support in their work places from their more experienced colleagues.
In Latvia, teachers do not have a civil servant status. They are contracted on a permanent basis. Employment conditions are included in the Education Law, the contract and the collective agreement if there is such. Teacher contracts are based on the general employment legislation. The definition of professional standards in terms of teaching content and methodology (knowledge, skills and expertise that teachers are expected to acquire and apply in their work) is stated in the legislation and in schools' own regulations.
However, general responsibilities of educators are prescribed by the law and are as follows:
- to participate creatively and responsibly in the implementation of the relevant educational programme;
- to raise upright and honourable people, patriots of Latvia;
- to constantly improve their education and professional skill;
- to conform with the norms of pedagogical professional ethics;
- to ensure that educatees have the opportunity to exercise their rights at an educational institution;
- to observe the rights of a child; and
- to implement an education programme in co-operation with the family of the educatee.
School head has discretion in determining how to organize replacement. Usually school heads rely on the existing teaching staff for replacement purposes.
To cover absent colleagues the workload of teachers is increased, and they receive overtime pay. There are no national regulations relating the maximum period when a teacher may be obliged to replace an absent colleague. In case of necessity the transfer to another teaching post may be organized.
Colleagues may replace an absent teacher. They may be fully qualified teachers over retirement age, and teachers qualified to teach other subjects or in another education level, as well as prospective teachers may also replace a teacher in situations of teacher shortage (the regulation permits that a person that is currently acquiring teacher qualification may work as a teacher).
So far, there was no explicit support system worked out by the government to assist teachers who quite often are exposed to stressful situations arising from excessive workload or necessity to deal with particular needs of pupils. A decision was taken to introduce the post of teacher assistant, however also this novation is postponed due to economic crisis and reduced public budget. Support personel is education psychologist, logopede, special teacher. The teaching process proceeds with collaboration.
Teacher in-service training (36 hours per 3 years) is financed from public budget.
The schools themselves have admitted the necessity for support for teachers working with heterogeneous groups of pupils, and try to have two teachers working in the so-called "correction" classes. Also, in order to facilitate teacher's work, in the first three years classes usually are divided in halves in mathematics and language classes. Later this division is preserved only in foreign language classes. However, the classes can be divided only if the number of learners exceeds 25.
Monthly salary of teacher is paid for working time in astronomical hours (including breaks between lessons) according to a workload of the teacher. The Regulation by the Cabinet of Ministers sets the lowest monthly work salary rate. Head of education institution evaluates work intensity and personal contrubution of the teacher according to the criteria approved by the school. Based on this evaluation and in the framework of state budget grant, the schol head has the right to define the monthly salary rate of teacher up than minimum salary rate defined by the regulation.
Average annual actual teachers' salaries (including bonuses and allowances) in the school year 2015/2016 were:
- EUR 7026 per year for pre-primary education teachers;
- EUR 7139 per year for primary education teachers;
- EUR 8647 per year for lower-secondary education teachers, and
- EUR 10 075 per year for upper-secondary education teachers (data of the Ministry of Education and Science, the State Education Information System).
There are following salary allowances for teachers:
- A teacher may receive allowance for outstanding personal contribution.
- Teachers working in the state gymnasiums and vocational education competence centres receive allowance of 10% of monthly salary.
- Teachers with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th quality level (professional activity quality evaluation system) receive allowance of EUR 45, EUR 114, and EUR 140 respectively in relation to one teaching work rate. The teaching performance quality evaluation system changed since 1st of January 2017 and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th quality levels were changed to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd levels.
In 2014, the Ministry of Education and Science invited the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to conduct a review of teacher remuneration system in Latvia. The OECD report is a contribution to the ongoing debate in the country and it aims to help Latvia better understand the options for using school funding and teachers’ salaries systems as an effective instrument to achieve policy objectives.
Working time and holidays
A pre-primary teacher's workload (one workload corresponds to monthly salary rate) was changed in 2016. Before the 1st of September 2016 one workload was 30 hours per week for ISCED 0 teachers, but after September 2016 it is 40 hours per week.
A school teacher's workload was changed in 2016, too. Before the 1st of September 2016 one workload was 21 hours per week for ISCED 1 and ISCED 2 teachers, but after September 2016 it is 30 hours per week.
The number of days in school year may vary from year to year (Ministry of Education and Science issues regulations on this every year); it also depends on the class. The starting date is the first day of school (usually the 1st, 2nd or 3rd of September), the end date – the last day of school. The number of days in a school year for the 1st class is 170, 2nd to 8th , 10th and 11th classes – 170 days and in the 9th class - 185 days, 12th class – 190 days.
An employment contract sets forward general and educational duties of teachers, which fall under several categories:
- teaching – giving lessons, planning and preparing lessons, marking and correcting class and home work, learner assessment and report writing; school management (including teamwork) – preparation of timetables, preparation and development of curriculum, preparation and development of timetable, working with other teachers on organisation, implementation and follow-up of cross-curricular activities;
- supervision of and activities with learners outside classroom – implementing policies with regard to learner discipline, supervision of learners at lunchtime, the midday break and breaks between lessons, organization of school trips;
- in-service training and professional development;
- miscellaneous – participation in representative bodies (teacher councils, trade unions, didactic subject groups, methodological unions of subject teachers, participation in parent-teacher meetings).
The parties may freely agree on the proportion of working time to be allotted to these duties, however, it is usually fixed whether a person is engaged as full-time or part-time employee.
Teachers are allowed 8 weeks of annual holiday; also up to 12 weeks long paid creative leave and up to 24 weeks long unpaid creative leave if a teacher has a contract for developing out teaching materials.
Teachers within teacher profession are not given special promotion possibilities. If they wish, teachers can apply for posts in education-related fields like the State Service of Education Quality, but this option is not seen as a promotion within teacher profession. Becoming an educational methodology expert might be considered to be a promotion, as usually the best teachers get the post of a regional methodology expert.
In 2007 the development of a differentiated carrer structure model was started as a pilot project.
Teachers may make an individual application if they want to participate in different work groups, expert commissions, and consultative boards and test development teams at the National Centre for Education, or participate in international cooperation and mobility projects.
Schools nominate teachers for inclusion in the teams for assessing of centralized examinations. Teachers are remunerated for these activities.
Mobility and transfers
There is no rotation or transfer system of teaching staff developed in Latvia.
If there is a necessity to transfer the teacher to a different teaching post in order to implement curriculum, the school head has the right to perform such a transfer in accordance with the current needs and on the same teaching level in accordance with the teacher's qualification.
Teachers have the right to terminate their contract by giving a notice in writing on the termination of the contract one month in advance if a shorter period is not determined in the contract. Teachers are free to look for other jobs any time and are responsible for their own career.
Employer may terminate contract only if the reasons for termination are related to inadequate behaviour or insufficient pedagogical skills, or if the school is being liquidated.
Retirement and pensions
Official retirement age in Latvia in 2017 both for women and men was 63 years. The number of years in service (as of teacher or any other occupation) and the amount of salary is taken into account determining the amount of pension.
The Parlament has approved amendments to the Law on Pensions, stipulating that the retirement age of 62 in 2014 will be gradually increased, and the retirement age will be raised until it will reach 65 in 2025.
The pension age threshold will also change for certain categories of people, such as parents of five and more children, parents of a disabled child, victims of Soviet political repressions etc., to claim the early retirement option. Now people belonging to any of those categories can apply for the old-age pension five years before reaching the general pension age.