Working conditions for teachers are regulated partly by law and regulations, partly by various agreements between trade unions and the government.
The most important acts are the general employment acts such as the Act on Pensions for State Employees (1949), the Act on Working Conditions (1977/2005) and the Civil Service Act (1983). The Education Act (1998) and the Adult Education Act (1976) influence teachers’ working conditions in primary and secondary school. The Act on Universities and University Colleges (2005) influences teachers’ working conditions in higher education institutions.
There is a general agreement for public employees between the unions and the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform, negotiated as equal partners.
There are agreements that apply only to teachers, between unions and the Ministry of Education and Research, negotiated as equal partners. The government decided on 31 January 2003 to transfer the responsibility of trade negotiation with the teacher organisations to the school-owners (counties and municipalities).For the higher education sector, there is an agreement on wage and working conditions for lecturers and researchers at universities and university colleges.
Entry to the profession
Teachers apply for their positions. The posts are announced in public journals and bulletins. In primary and secondary education the school owner is the employer and is thus responsible for appointments, so the municipality is responsible for appointments in primary and lower secondary schools, while the county is responsible for appointments in upper secondary schools. The school prepares a ranking list of applicants, based on level of education, marks obtained, and years of working practice. The educational authorities make the appointment. There is a tendency towards a self-governing system for schools in the disposition of financial resources including teachers’ salaries. When recruiting a teacher, and to a lesser extent in the annual local salary negotiations, the employer (the local authorities) may attract good teachers by increasing the salary.
For replacing teachers that will be absent for a few days or weeks, due to illness or training courses, schools usually contact a supply teacher from a list of those locally available. Depending on local labour market conditions, supply teachers may be qualified teachers that are retired, unemployed or recently graduated. Supply teachers may also be not fully qualified, with a university degree or as students. If supply teachers are not found, colleagues may have to assist.
For replacing teachers that will be absent for several months or a year, due to illness or maternity leave, a temporary position is advertised and a substitute teacher engaged. Applicants for temporary positions are mostly recent graduates.
Supporting measures for new teachers in their first post have not been usual as formal arrangements in Norway. Recently, a project on guidance for recently educated teachers has been supported by the Directorate for Education and Training. "Mentoring for Newly Qualified Teachers" is a national program on guidance for teachers. The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research (KD) and The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) have agreed that both parts will work towards getting a good induction program for newly hired newly qualified teachers. KD and KS are also part of the collaboration called GNIST.
- The introduction programs can be organized at the individual workplaces in order to support the newly qualified teacher in practical matters.
- Qualified mentoring will assist the professional development. It can be organized at the individual workplace and across several workplaces. The mentoring can be individual or in groups. The local mentor should be a qualified mentor.
Minimum and maximum of gross annual statuary salaries at pre-primary, primary and secondary level, school-year 2012-13:
|Pre-primary level (only ISCED 0)
|350 900 (3 years of education)
|Lowest seniority, 0 year (annual wage 2012)
|Primary school teacher with teacher training college (lærer)
|Primary/secondary school teacher with 4 years of studies (adjunkt)
|Secondary school teacher with 5-6 years of studies (lektor)
Source: The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS)
Teachers' salaries depend largely on the type of position and on seniority. A small proportion of the pay may however be a result of performance, this is decided locally. Positions depend on type of higher education and the number of years of studies. The main positions are for primary school teachers with 3-year teacher training college (“lærer”), primary or secondary school teachers with 4 years of studies (“adjunkt”) and secondary school teachers with 5-6 years of studies (“lektor”).
The salary increases with number of years of employment (seniority). The very highest salaries will be paid only if negotiated especially due to competence. When hiring new teachers, it is possible to start paying them more if they posses exceptional qualities or have competence especially needed by the school. Teachers will be paid extra if they have specific additional tasks, such as counselling, responsibility for a group or participation in camp school.
Working time and holidays
Different aspects of working conditions are stated in the working-time agreement with teaching personnel in educational institutions of pre-primary, primary and secondary education. Teachers at the different levels up to and including upper secondary school have the following main working-time agreement from 2011-2012: Overall annual working time: - Pre-primary: 37,5 hours per week. Annual teaching/working hours are not specified. - Primary and secondary education: 1687.5 hours per year.
Mean weekly hours of teaching at the different levels of education:
- Pre-primary education: 33,5 hours
- Primary education: 19,5 hours
- Lower secondary education: 15,9/18,7 hours
- Upper secondary education: 12,2/16,9 hours
In primary and secondary education the teaching lesson is 60 minutes and the teaching year is 38 weeks in primary and secondary education. In addition to the teaching time/days, teachers have to be present at school for six planning days. Secondly teachers have a mandatory 559-683,5 hours at school, used for meetings, planning etc. The rest of the working time is at the teacher's free disposal, at school or at home. In pre-primary institutions teachers have four hours per week to plan the pedagogical activities. Most teachers work full time, but a considerable number of teachers work part-time, especially in primary schools. Teachers older than 58 years of age get their lecturing time reduced with 6%.
Open positions for teachers and headmasters are advertised publicly. Selection is mainly based on the curriculum vitae. Applicants are evaluated and recommended by the schools.
Staffs in schools (headmasters, deputy heads and advisers) are almost invariably professional teachers who, particularly in the case of administrators under the level of headmaster, continue to have responsibility for some teaching. There are limited opportunities for promotion to administrative posts. Only approximately 10% of the total workload in primary and secondary education is devoted to administrative functions.
Mobility and transfers
Teachers are free to apply for open positions. Mobility is fairly high among younger teachers in primary and secondary education, partly because permanent positions are difficult to obtain without previous teaching experience. The turnover rate depends upon the general situation in the labour market. In general, teachers with qualifications from a university college represent a relatively stable professional group compared to other university college graduates. Due to the expansion of the pre-primary sector, pre-primary education teachers are in demand and a 2013-study show that the turnover rate for teachers is lower now than ten years ago. (Gulbrandsen, L. and Eliassen, E. 2013, Kvalitet i barnehagen, NOVA rapport 1/13). http://www.nova.no/id/26327.0
Dismissal of teachers is extremely rare. Cases in the last thirty years are confined to flagrant misconduct, such as making the work environment impossible for colleagues and the propagation of fascist ideology. Only a limited number of teachers leave the profession as a result of dismissal.
Teachers working in the school sector are not likely to face the risk of unemployment. Those who are permanently employed will be guaranteed a new job in cases where the school is closed or reorganised. They may not be dismissed for reasons of shortage of work.
Retirement and pensions
The Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund (Statens pensjonskasse), established in 1917, is an external department of the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform. It is responsible for the administration of retirement finances. All state employees are automatically members of The Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund, and teachers will remain so by special agreement even though counties and municipalities employ them. Teachers in public employment - whether they are employed by a municipality (pre-primary and compulsory education), a county (upper secondary education), or a state institution (higher education) - are also automatically members if they have at least 35% of a full-time position. A monthly deduction depending on the size of the salary is made to The Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.
The general retirement age is 70 years. Teachers - together with many other groups of employees - are covered by a special agreement (AFP-agreement) which gives them the right to reduced workload or early retirement from the age of 62. According to this agreement, the regular pension agreement takes over at the age of 67.