During our short explanation of the collective labour agreement that rules our sector, we mentioned a type of contract which we want to explain in detail: the Fijo Discontínuo contract. My advice for most teachers would be to make sure you are under this type of contract, and I will explain why.
I will start saying that this contract should not be necessary in teaching. In an ideal world our sector should be stable and teachers should have paid holidays. I keep insisting on this.
But we are not in an ideal world, our sector is not stable (we have to work towards that goal though), and lucky teachers get paid for 10 months. Their contracts stop during July and August, only to be renewed in September when the academic year starts again.
Most teachers, however, see this happening many times all year round. For the periods where they are offered groups or classes until these groups end.
What happens to a teacher during those periods where they have no classes and so no contract?
It depends on the initial conditions, and the good will of the employer. If the teacher left on his own accord (or was tricked into signing so ), or if the proyect (in obra y servicio) finishes before a year’s end (trial period), the ex-employee would have no unemployment benefit (paro). You only get paro if you’ve been sacked, so teachers usually find themselves without a regular income during holiday seasons.
The contract called Fijo Discontínuo (this is the official contract model) was created for these kind of situations where a job can be discontinued at intervals and renewed again.
Many employers hire teachers with temporary contracts (contratos eventuales), or service contracts (obra y servicio) where they should be using the fijo discontínuo. The former are contracts where an employee is hired as an exception and he is not expected to be renewed. The latter is for an employee who will work for an academy in a discontinued manner. But he will be renewed.
So I am not saying obra y servicio are illegal contracts or shouldn’t be used. I am just saying they are not correct if the teacher is expected to continue. They don’t provide the employee with the benefits that fijo discontinuo has (see below) and, in a nutshell, you are being considered a temporary worker. With a fijo discontinuo you are part of the permanent staff, but there might be periods where you are not teaching.
NB: I’m not even considering those cases where the teacher doesn’t work under a contract or where the employer declares only a percentage of the hours a teacher works. Teachers, please do not allow this.
Who says this is the right contract to be used?
I had a work insepction last summer in my center, and the inspector recommended every teacher who’s contract could be halted and renewed (so all except part time or full time employees) to have a fijo discontínuo contract.
It makes sense for the teacher, and has little to no disadvantages for the centre.
What are the advantages of this type of contract?
- You are entitled to receive the unemployment benefit, the paro. During the periods of inactivity, the contract is not cancelled, but suspended, and you can either get the paro, or get another contract. So it means you can, for example, receive the unemployment benefit during July and August IF you have worked for the required minimum (which I think is 12 months in the last 6 years).
Once you start your job with the school/academy again, the contract is renewed.
- Your contract is indefinite, contrato indefinido. You have all the rights and stability of these types of contract. And the employer receives the benefits of hiring employees with an indefinite contract.
You are not considered an eventual worker, but a stable one who doesn’t work every month.
- If your contract is not renewed, for example if you are not called back to work in Spetember when the academic year starts again, you can consider you have been dismissed and get all the benefits of that situation.
- Remember that during the periods where you contract is paused, you can’t get a compensation, because you have not been fired.
- The contract is extinguished when both parties decide so, or when the employee decides to leave voluntarily.
- Employers don’t pay the salary during the periods of inactivity. So that’s another benefit for academies or schools.
I hope I have been able to convey the idea why this contract, if not perfect, does allow teachers to have stabilty, security and an income during periods of inactivity.