Measuring the Working Hours of Teachers in Saxony from Summer Onwards

by | Jan 23, 2024 | German Daily Digest | 0 comments

Investigating the Working Hours of Teachers in Saxony

A study is set to commence in Saxony this summer to determine the actual working hours of teachers. Starting from August 1st, the Ministry of Culture aims to examine whether working time accounts are feasible. The study will investigate the real working hours of teachers in all types of schools, particularly primary and secondary schools, as well as grammar schools, across all regions. It will run for a whole year, with an interim result to be provided halfway through the study.

Teachers in the Classroom

Minister of Culture, Christian Piwarz, stated, “Only after that will we see what scope there is for working time accounts and what potential exists to get more teachers for instruction in the short term.” This initiative by Saxony has garnered attention across Germany, as other federal states are also interested in the study’s results.

Overview of the Study

The study aims to measure the extent of teachers’ working hours in various phases throughout the academic year, across different subjects and working time models. The objective is to determine the number of hours teachers spend on their tasks using objective criteria. This includes not only instructional time in front of students but also all instructional and non-instructional activities undertaken by teachers, even during non-teaching periods.

“After rulings by the European Court of Justice and the Federal Labor Court, capturing working hours in Germany has become mandatory. The Federal Ministry of Labor rejected a request from the Conference of Ministers responsible for Education and Research for exceptions for teachers and researchers. However, a new law proposed by Federal Minister of Labor, Hubertus Heil (SPD), is still pending.”

Evaluating the Workload

The Ministry of Culture intends to use the data collected to gain a comprehensive overview of the workload faced by teachers in Saxony. Teacher associations in the region frequently highlight the high workload in schools due to the strained staffing situation and call for measures to alleviate the burden. According to a study conducted in 2022 by the University of Göttingen on behalf of the Education and Science Trade Union, teachers in Saxony often work more than 48 hours per week, with only one-third of that time dedicated to teaching.

“Systemic overtime and a health-threatening burden are the norm. It is already proven that teachers are overloaded,” said Burkhard Naumann, the head of the Education and Science Trade Union (GEW) in Saxony.

The union demands significant action to address the workload and proper documentation of teachers’ working hours. Naumann emphasized, “With the recording of working hours, the individual time burden on teachers would be immediately regulable.” However, the Ministry of Culture has so far rejected discussions on how the recording should be implemented. Minister Piwarz envisions a model of working time accounts for teachers up to the age of 55 to ensure an adequate supply of instruction. A temporary increase in the weekly teaching quota could be financially compensated or offset by fewer working hours later on. This approach allows for more flexibility, with peak demands being balanced by overtime and the overall workload reduced during years with lower student numbers, without the need for teacher layoffs.

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