Promovendi Network Netherlands satisfied with ruling in MD/PhD appeal case

Promovendi Network Netherlands (PNN) has joyfully received the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the case brought by 44 MD/PhD scholarship PhD candidates against the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). The Court of Appeal Arnhem-Leeuwarden has decided that the relationship between the PhD candidates and the UMCG should be regarded as an employment contract. Chair Anneke Kastelein: "PNN has been protesting for years against the unfair treatment that scholarship PhD candidates have been facing. It is therefore an important milestone that the Court of Appeal also confirms that this group of PhD candidates should indeed be seen as employees."

This group of PhD candidates were recruited between 2016 and 2018 as 'students' within the scholarship PhD experiment. As a result, they did not receive an employment contract and the corresponding salary but instead a scholarship. Both before and after this period, PhD candidates with a similar profile were indeed hired as employees. In practice, the scholarship PhD candidates performed the same research work and had the same responsibilities, but they received significantly less pay, did not accrue pension benefits, did not receive a holiday allowance, and were not protected under the collective labor agreement. Kastelein: "Doing a PhD is work. These PhD candidates performed labor for the UMCG and had to comply with nearly all the obligations that came with it." The experiment began in 2016 and will run until August 2024. It is unclear whether this ruling could potentially have implications for all other PhD candidates recruited within the experiment. Kastelein: "We will study the ruling in detail. Approximately 1,500 scholarship PhD candidates were recruited within the experiment on PhD education and were consistently underpaid."

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