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The salary system in Dutch academia is based on a number of "scales" (schaal), which are related to the different academic ranks. The salary in the same scale can vary considerably, depending on the "step" (trede) on which the employee is positioned (see the current salary table). In job offerings, the scale is usually specified in the job advertisement, whereas the step depends on the candidate and can be subject to negotiation.

  1. How does one rise in "steps"? Is it bound to certain achievements, or does it happen automatically after a certain time (what are the time intervals in this case)?

  2. How is the starting step for a new employee usually determined?

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You automatically go up one step per year, until you reach the top of the scale. Starting points are determined by HR, based on an estimate of how many 'years' into the scale you already should be. For example, a postdoc would typically begin on (I think) 10-4, to account for the time spent doing the PhD (note that the Promovendus - PhD student - scale P matches the start of scale 10).

I imagine that it is theoretically possible to refuse someone an increment, or advance them by several steps at once - but I've never heard of it actually happening.

Once you hit the top of a scale, you're stuck there until you can get promoted to the next scale (which requires an explicit process to be followed).

(The other quirk of the Dutch system is that your annual salary is typically 14x the number in this table: 12 monthly payments, plus a vacation payment and an annual bonus.)

  • Thanks! As a follow-up question, since you mention that the starting step is determined by HR, I wonder if it can still be negotiated (for example, when starting as an assistant professor that brings in job-relevant experiences from a previous post-doc). – lighthouse keeper Oct 19 '19 at 7:39
  • Good answer in general, just a couple of points: it is actually quite regular a jump in scale or several jumps in steps without explicit achievements (I have seen people promoted to scale 14 without ever had funding). It does not always depends on experience. A UD2 with 15 year postdoc and a UD2 with 2 year postdoc will both get 11-0 salary scale (I have actually witnessed it). – PsySp Oct 19 '19 at 8:27
  • @PsySp Is there an explanation how the jumps in the steps/scales came to be? Do you know if the UD2's in this case tried to negotiate? – lighthouse keeper Oct 19 '19 at 8:51
  • @lighthousekeeper There is not always an explanation (at least to me: im not a manager, just a UD). I doubt that negotiation would give you something more than a single step (from 11-0 to 11-1) but it depends on the academic unit. In short, I think (at least in my unit) there is much in-discrepancy between salary scales of people of similar experience and I am really not sure what is the rationale behind this, since there is no obvious reason. Another point that might play role is the 30% ruling, Do you have it? – PsySp Oct 19 '19 at 8:57
  • @PsySp Interesting, it surprises me a bit that there is so much discrepancy and no clear rationale. Sounds like it wouldn't be a completely far-fetched idea to negotiate. I would have 30% ruling, so that's nice either way. – lighthouse keeper Oct 19 '19 at 9:04

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