Consequently, thousands of teachers who have taken unpaid leave since 2017 will receive lower pensions. According to the unions, Flemish Education Minister Ben Witts (N-VA) is going against his word, but believes it is “wrong to reward people if they work less”. Mediahuis newspapers write this.
look. Ben Waits: “It makes no sense to reward those who work less, especially with the shortage of teachers.”
Until a few years ago, there were three systems of VVP (leave for underperformance), and a system in education for unpaid leave. The new VVP law entered into force on September 1, 2017.
“To prevent people who received the new VVP from receiving a lower pension, this had to technically be adjusted by the pension service,” says Marianne Koopman of the trade union COV. “Then Education Minister Hilda Krevits (CD&V) promised that everything would be fine and sent a letter to Pensions Minister Daniel Bucklin (MR).”
But the file continued to get confused. So far. At the beginning of this week, Wits distributed a circular stating clearly that the VVP program has an impact on pensions. “Especially in times of teacher shortages, I think it’s really wrong to reward people if they work less by giving them the same pension as those who work more,” says Waits. He assures that nothing is taken away and that he is always warned of the consequences if you withdraw VVP.
‘It is counterproductive’
The unions see it differently and accuse Waits of violating his word. “Moreover, this is counterproductive. The workload in education is high and VVP is a way to maintain work-life balance. Now more people are at risk of dropping out due to burnout,” says Koopman.
However, the file was ready for approval by current Pensions Minister Karine Lalieu (PS). “But Flanders decided this summer to withdraw the application,” she says.
Nadia Naji, co-chair of Groene, finds it incomprehensible that Wits is “retracing his steps”. “Teachers are under enormous pressure. Anyone who temporarily comes out of the vortex to catch their breath or wants to work less is now being punished for it,” says Nadia Naji, co-president of Gruen. “Minister Wittes would do well to address the cause of the problem by ensuring our teachers have access to Space to breathe again.”
Between 50 and 100 euros net
It is unclear exactly how many teachers are affected. According to the latest figures, there were 16,097 teachers in the VVP in 2021, but the Department for Education was unable to say how many unique teachers joined after 2017. In any case, this is about thousands of teachers. They will therefore have a large or small gap in their career which will not be counted towards their pension.
According to trade union ACOD, anyone who has been a full-time VVP for two years – the maximum duration – can receive up to a 4 percent lower pension. Concretely, this can easily amount to between €50 and €100 net per month.
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