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Fighting for a higher pay scale

You usually don't get to a higher salary scale by yourself. As a supporter or teacher you have to stand up for yourself. Higher vocational education teacher Diana Wittendorp was determined, fought her way to a higher scale and in doing so also helped colleagues. "Do not be afraid."

'We are happy with you, but we don't think salary scale 11 is appropriate.' That's how it started. And what do you do then? Do you think: leave it alone, or do you go against it. Diana Wittendorp, lecturer in biology and medical laboratory research at the Hogeschool Leiden, chose the second option. “I had gone through the document with all the teaching positions and put it next to my work. I supervised graduation students, was independently engaged in research within lectorates and was responsible for a course of three credits. I belong in that higher salary scale.”

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Wittendorp has been working at the Hogeschool Leiden since 2007. She sometimes toyed with the idea, but never objected before. Until her school decided to review all positions and to update the job house, a document containing all job descriptions with activities, so that it was more appropriate for this time. “Now it has to happen, I thought,” says the HBO teacher. Especially when she read that in scale 11 supervising graduation students was part of the tasks.

Her employer saw it differently and informed her by email that she was simply classified in salary scale 10. The scale she has been in since 2007. “I did perform tasks that belong to 11, but the responsibility was not entirely with me or it was too 'summary', as was the explanation.”

She appealed and emailed her supervisor, but he insisted and stated why per point. “It's quite dragging,” says Wittendorp. “Executives are trying to downgrade it. Makes sense from their point of view, but it still feels annoying. As if what you're doing doesn't mean much. I could let it go, but I understand that this gives people sleepless nights. I think it's good to put yourself in the shoes of the team leader in such things."

'If people don't call themselves, nothing will happen and you will be crammed into an old job profile'

Wittendorp never considered settling for the rejections. Not even after a conversation with an HR advisor and her manager that came to nothing. The internal objections committee was the next step and she took it. “It takes quite a lot of time, you have to draft official letters, present arguments well and then there is a moment when both parties are heard.”


“There must always first be a decision from supervisors against which you can appeal,” says AObsector director Roelf van der Ploeg. “Only then can you go to an objection committee.” Teachers and support staff usually end up with an internal objections committee, but there is also a national objections committee for job classification. Rob van Baalen is vice-chairman of this committee. He estimates that on average there are three to four cases per year. “Until now, it was always business from universities of applied sciences in the Randstad, such as Leiden, Utrecht and Rotterdam. That struck me.”

Wittendorp does say that you should know for sure. “More work will also come your way if it is awarded.” Just before the summer holidays she receives the email she has been waiting for: the internal committee agrees with her. The school must place her in salary scale 11. “I felt such relief and happiness.”

A good function building is a 'little child', notes AObsector director Van der Ploeg who also negotiates the collective labor agreement. “Universities of applied sciences often let it slip, while it is not surprising that you do something about 'maintenance' once in a while. That has often been very limited. If people don't call themselves, nothing will happen and you will be crammed into an old job profile.”

Van der Ploeg has the strong impression that people who ask for a higher salary scale often get this done. “That's not so strange,” he says. “Employers prefer to let one colleague move to a higher scale, so that it doesn't go through a public committee. The chance is then that suddenly many more colleagues have to move to a higher scale. I advise teaching staff to start the conversation.”

'A good function building is a 'little child'

For higher vocational education teachers, the difference between salary scale 10 and 11 lies in the development of education. “Nearly all teachers do that, of course,” says Van der Ploeg. “Only, often there is a difference whether they only contribute to education or whether they are responsible. In the beginning, when you first come in, sometimes teachers just contribute, but it's a sliding scale. You will soon be making changes to the curriculum or coming up with ideas. Scale 11 for teachers means that they are responsible for their own teaching. Scale 12 is responsible for a large part of the curriculum.”

Supporters must also be aware of their work. Van der Ploeg: “These functions are also developing. Think of a secretary who after a few years is actually an office manager. Or the ICT professional who first performs ICT tasks in a small area, but later becomes all-round.”


Figures from the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, the employers' organisation, show that in 2021 almost 36 thousand employees had a teaching position at the universities of applied sciences. Of these, 4.356 were in salary scale 10, 17.325 in scale 11 and 10.081 in scale 12. There are large differences in the distribution of the salary scales per university of applied sciences. At Zuyd University, for example, 8,3 percent of teaching staff is in salary scale 10. At Leiden University this is almost a quarter and at Rotterdam University it is almost 19 percent. The Higher Education Press Agency reported in April that there are fewer and fewer HBO teachers in salary scale 12. There used to be about as many teachers in scale 11 as in scale 12, but that is no longer the case.

'I wanted appreciation and I also did it for colleagues'

At Wittendorp, her higher salary scale means 'tens of work' for the time being. “Ultimately, at the end of the scale, there is a gross difference of 700 euros with scale 10. Although I wasn't in it for the money. I wanted appreciation and also did it for colleagues. I sometimes heard people complain at the coffee machine or say that it was pointless. I called on them to work on it; sent emails around.” Two colleagues followed her example and were also proved right by the committee. Another colleague who wanted to go from scale 11 to 12 did not succeed.

Which makes the HBO lecturer even more happy: “The team leader indicated that he is now examining all functions, so that more colleagues may be scaled up. It feels good to stand up for yourself, but it's even better if colleagues also benefit from it. That's why I say, don't be afraid. You can always try, then you will never regret afterwards and a if only I had a feeling. "


Webinar about salary scales

On September 28, the AOb a webinar for members about job evaluation of lecturers in higher professional education. AObsector director Roelf van der Ploeg explains the activities associated with the different salary scales, how you can discuss the subject and how you determine whether you have been classified correctly. You can register via: aob.nl > agenda > online office hours job evaluation


This article is from the June Education Magazine. Members receive the magazine in the mail every month. Become a member of the AOb!


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