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500 euro to work on yourself

MAASTRICHT. Fewer temporary staff, better career policies, fewer differences between the faculties. These are a few of the outlines of Maastricht University’s new human resources policy. And everyone is to receive 500 euro for ‘personal development’.

There are still some items to be discussed in detail and there is still no final policy document, but the direction of the new approach is clear, says the new HRM director André Koehorst. The point of departure is ‘good employership’, the UM should become an attractive employer who is able to attract good personnel and also manages to keep them. Obviously, this is inconsistent with large contingencies of employees being palmed off with short-term contracts of six months. “If we offer temporary contracts, then it will be for two or three years,” says Koehorst. But the policy is definitely geared towards a reduction of the number of temporary jobs. Among academic staff – plans being limited to this sector at the moment – there are far too many temporary lecturers, too many researchers who (almost) exclusively either teach or do research. Not only should the temporary nature be reduced, so should the one-sided job descriptions. The idea is, says Koehorst, to appoint more people as lecturers, who teach as well as doing research. At the same time, jobs will have to become more flexible: it should be possible that the emphasis is temporarily more on one aspect than the other.

Something else that will change, is that the differences between faculties when it comes to policies regarding tenure tracks, will disappear almost completely. The tenure system uses medium-term appointments, which are turned in to ‘permanent’ appointments after a favourable assessment. The period will now be six years across the board, and the permanent appointment will follow even when there is actually no funding available, for example because the number of students has dropped. A promise is a promise, will be the motto.

Employees will also be given more security: anyone who constantly fulfils tasks that are part of a higher position, should actually be given that position.

The sustainable employability of personnel is another focal point. The plans deliberately address all employees, not just to those over fifty. Koehorst: “People want to determine for themselves when they bring something up, when they want to work at developing themselves, or when the balance between private life and work is upset.”

On top of the facilities that are already in place, such as career advisors and UM Sports, everyone will receive a voucher, a personal budget, to be used for activities not directly connected to their position.

Koehorst: “I feel you have to see this broadly. What do you do when you get a request for a flower arrangement course? Many would think that the budget is not meant for something like that, but it has happened that someone chose to work in a flower shop after doing such a course. So it was a useful investment within the framework of someone’s career. By the way, there is no fixed amount for the voucher yet, we are thinking of something like 500 euro a year. And we still have to look into the tax effects.”

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