Lifetime career appointments trashed for most new Flemish civil servants

The Flemish government has decided to abandon lifetime career appointments for most new workers in the Flemish civil service.  Career tenure will in future only be awarded to workers with public order jobs.  The government has promised to improve conditions with regard to sick leave, pensions and the homeworking grant for contract workers.

Starting 2024 new staff being hired by the Flemish authorities will only be able to get a contract and not a lifetime career appointment.

Flemish home government minister Bart Somers (liberal) reached agreement on the change last week. It is one of the measures contained in the social labour agreement negotiated with the trades unions and valid for 2022-23.  The document is being signed today.

Lifetime career tenure was introduced to guarantee independence for civil servants and ensure they couldn’t be put under pressure by politicians.  Lifetime career tenure remains a possibility for people doing public order jobs including sea pilots.

In future other staff will be hired on contracts of limited or unlimited duration.  The decision won’t affect teacher appointments.

Working conditions for people with a lifetime appointment are set by law and are not subject to negotiation or a labour contract. People with career tenure can’t negotiate their own pay and can only be sacked after a lengthy disciplinary and evaluation procedure. Fixed tenure is only awarded following an independent selection procedure.

Contract workers are often at a disadvantage.  Wages rise more slowly.  Dismissal is easier and after a month’s sick leave they receive only 60% of their salary from the health insurance fund. Civil servants with fixed tenure receive their full wage till their retirement.

The changes won’t affect civil servants who already enjoy lifetime career appointments but will impact on new recruits.

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