pixellaphoto / Flickr
pixellaphoto / Flickr

Switzerland: New report shows overworked and underpaid teachers

published 9 May 2019 updated 16 May 2019

Teachers in Switzerland are often overworked and underpaid, especially if they work on part-time contracts, according to the latest report on working time of the Dachverband Lehrerinnen und Lehrer Schweiz (LCH) and the Syndicat des Enseignants Romands (SER).

Every ten years, the LCH commissions a study on the working time of educators, with previous editions dating from 1999 and 2009. The latest report, based on a poll of 39.600 educators, shows that most teachers spend between 8.6% and 16% extra hours at work.

Beat W. Zemp, President of LCH, commented on the results, pointing out that “working time for Swiss teachers is already the highest of all OECD countries, and on top of this they work extra hours for free. This extra time is worth hundreds of millions of Swiss francs”.  Zemp demanded that the situation be tackled by the competent authorities, who should ensure that educators can perform their duties within their regular working time.

Improvements for full-time workers but growth of part-time positions

The results of the working time study show that the situation for full-time employees has improved over the last decade. Overtime hours are still significant in the German speaking part of Switzerland. The LCH attributes this improvement to a better organisation of schools and education institutions.

According to the LHC study many overworked teachers voluntarily agree to a reduction of their working time in order to decrease the level of extra hours they have to put in. It warns of the “high price” of this reaction, stressing that the fewer the official working hours, the more extra time is normally worked.

This situation also has negative effects when it comes to inclusive education: 71% of educators reviewed for the study noted that integrated schools lack resources, especially in terms of instruction time. The President of SER, Samuel Rohrbach, has pointed out that inclusive schools need more staffing, especially given the fact that 50 to 80 percent of educators feel overworked.

LCH and SER are both demanding paid extra hours for educators, a reduction of compulsory extra education hours for teachers, more resources for the classrooms and more time for educators to interact with parents.