Start of the contract

The contract for employee-PhDs is a temporary employment contract for the expected duration of the promotion process. At the moment you start, your employment contract is set to a fixed term.

In principle, the duration of your employment is four years, based on a full working week (38 hours). The national Higher Education Act states that the so-called chain provision (ketenbepaling) does not apply for employees in a position for education purposes. PhD candidates are considered as such a position. This means that there are no restrictions to the number of successive employment contracts. The law thus always offers space for a contract extension.

4 years, 3 years, ‘2+3’ years? As of July 2018, the collective labour agreement states that the duration of employee-PhD contracts is four years. Accordingly, the majority of employee-PhD positions in the Netherlands have a four year duration.However, in some cases the PhD trajectory is treated as a ‘consolidated’ version of the research master’s program (2 years) and the actual PhD trajectory (3 years). Because the university appoints the candidate as an employee-PhD for three years instead of four years, this ‘2+3’-model is said to save time and money, without compromising quality and depth. In the Netherlands, there is already a number of scientific fields where the PhD trajectory has this consolidated form, such as communication science and economic sciences.Although the formulation of the labour agreement provides this leeway, it has to be underlined that PNN strongly opposes the ‘2+3’-model, as outlined among others in our Employment Conditions Monitor. There is no clear evidence for the benefits of shortening the PhD trajectory, other than a cost reduction for universities.

For more facts and figures, be sure to read the PNN PhD Survey 2020 on Contract Characteristics.

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