What are hourly wage rates in the public sector, including bonus, holiday pay, allowances and overtime? The Ministry of the Interior commissioned SEO Amsterdam Economics to conduct a survey of the salaries paid in fourteen public and semi-public sectors and elsewhere.

The high salaries at universities of applied sciences stand out in particular. Apart from employees in the judiciary, staff at universities of applied sciences are the best-paid public sector workers in the Netherlands, with an average gross hourly wage of 40.81 euros. This compares with 36.91 euros per hour at research universities.

This relates to the average salary, across all positions from reception staff to professors and from librarians to lecturers. The figures for higher academic education also include PhD students, for example, who have comparatively modest incomes.

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Young and old

Outgoing education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf sent the House of Representatives a letter regarding the survey last Friday. Generally, he concludes, the education sector provides employment terms that can match up with market remuneration.

Nonetheless, he highlights the gap between young and old staff at universities of applied sciences and research universities. The average salary for employees under 35 at universities of applied sciences is six percent lower compared to similar employees elsewhere, while employees aged above 35 earn eight to eleven percent more.

SEO based its comparison of ‘similar employees’ on individuals with roughly similar characteristics. They are the same age and have the same educational level, type of contract and length of working week.

The same notable difference between young and old is also evident at research universities. There, employees aged under 35 earn fifteen percent less than similar employees in other sectors and in the business sector, while hourly wage rates for employees aged over 50 (a quarter of all employees) are actually five percent higher.

In het wetenschappelijk onderwijs is dat verschil tussen jong en oud ook flink. Werknemers onder de 35 jaar verdienen er vijftien procent minder dan vergelijkbare werknemers in andere sectoren en in het bedrijfsleven, terwijl het uurloon boven de vijftig (een kwart van de medewerkers) juist 5 procent hoger ligt.

Collective Labour Agreement

Dijkgraaf hopes the insights from the survey will be used in collective bargaining negotiations. A tailored approach may sometimes be required “at job level, by employer or region”, he believes.