University: Despite warnings, these agents still work less than 35 hours per week

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In a report that has just been published, the Court of Auditors once again criticizes the excessively short working hours of non-teaching university staff. A deficient legal framework for their working hours, too many days of leave… several reasons explain this irregularity, which has a strong impact on public finances.

Nothing works. Despite a first alert from the Court of Auditors in 2015 and a second in 2019non-teaching university staff always have work time duration less than legalset at 1,607 hours per year – or 35 hours per week – for all agents in the public service transformation law of 2019. The observation has the merit of being clear: today, without university “does not respect the legal annual duration of working time”informs the Court of Accounts in a new report published this Wednesday, January 10.

Thus, the approximately 77,000 library, engineering, administrative, technical, social and health agents of the universities (also called “Biatss”) each worked, on average, 1,467 hours in 2022, that is, a little more than 32 hours per week, according to a survey carried out by the institution on Cambon Street. This is 140 hours less than the legal duration. But this average covers a strong heterogeneity between universities, with a maximum of 1,593 hours per year for the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne – which, however, remains lower than the legal duration – and a minimum of 1,352 hours for the University of Toulouse 2 Jean Jaures.

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Too many leaves are granted to non-teaching university staff

This situation is explained, on the one hand, by a ministerial circular of January 21, 2002 that includes several provisions that contribute to reduce it “irregular” the legal duration of working time. “The circular leads, in fact, to consider, wronglyas real work time holidays days legal, as well as the daily rest time of 20 minutes, mandatory for any daily duration greater than six hours., explains the Court of Auditors. According to the institution, this circular essentially explains (up to 61%) the average difference of 140 hours with the legal duration observed for non-teaching university staff.

On the other hand, the low annual working hours of non-teaching university staff is due to excessively high vacation entitlement. In this way, the number of annual vacations of Biatss agents can be increased to 45 days (compared to 25 days a year in normal times for an agent working five days a week) to preserve the length of licenses linked to university rhythms. Indeed, “University calendars provide for periods of mandatory closure of establishments during which agents must take vacations. The length of these closure periods varies by establishment: it can range from three weeks to more than seven weeks, and averages five weeks with a winter (between Christmas and New Year) and summer closure.”detail the Wise Men of Cambon Street.

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In addition to these 45 days of annual leave, a variable number of adjustment days and reduction of working hours – set at the discretion of the universities – can also be granted to non-teaching staff. Result: the number of vacation days of Biatss agents amounts, on average, to 52 days a year. “Which would imply a working day of about 40 hours per week to reach the legal duration of 1,607 hours per year”, specifies the Court of Accounts. Which is far from the case, with the almost 32 hours a week these agents work.

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Inequalities between agents in terms of working time, according to university policy

Furthermore, this exceptional number of days of leave, “whose legal nature remains ambiguous”is a source of “complexity” and leads to “a diversity of practices in universities, which can penalize establishments and be source of inequality between agents, describes the authors of the report. In fact, some universities have work regimes for which only traditional annual leave is granted, without any adjustment day and reduction of additional hourswhile other universities grant them.

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Likewise, not all universities have It is not the same way to calculate actual working time of his Biatss agents. Despite the 2002 circular, “About thirty of them do not consider legal holidays to be effective work. More than twenty, the twenty-minute break is not counted in the service obligations of non-teaching staff, nor is it specified that during this break, which occurs in addition to the lunch break, the agent remains at the employer’s disposal.details the Court of Accounts.

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Great damage to universities and public finances

Therefore, for the latter, the 2002 circular must be “repealed”in particular because “the legal capacity to define the duration of working time is improperly assumed” non-teaching university staff. Especially since this circular causes economic damage. “significant”, adds the institution on Cambon Street. The too short effective working hours of Biats agents led, in fact, to TO “deficit” total of 9.7 million hours worked in 2022, “That is, the equivalent of almost 6,000 annual full-time equivalents (FTE), which represents the Biatss workforce of two large universities”, illustrates the Court of Auditors. Converted to euros, this deficit in hours worked amounts, in total, to 313.6 million eurosaccording to the calculations of the Sages.

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Therefore, in the case of the Cambon Street institution, the executive must review the system that regulates the working time of non-teaching university staff. “However, this will only be reasonably possible if a broader project on the attractiveness of these professions is undertaken.”insist the authors of the report, who ask to accompany the return to 1,607 hours of work per year with measures of Salary increase of the interested agents. Based on 2022 data, these would have a cost of 210 million euros for public finances, according to the Court. And good news: “The increase in the working hours of Biatss agents after their adaptation to the legal duration would come to mitigate the cost of this compensatory revaluation for public finances, the authors believe. If we compare the annual cost of the salary increase with the theoretical “benefit” expected from regularizing the working day of Biatss agents to 1,607 hours, the result would be positive: 103 million euros. »

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Inside an answer In this summary hearing, the former Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, stated that she shared the wish of the Court of Auditors “correlate the return to compliance with the 1,607-hour standard with important compensatory recovery measures”. He also stated that he wanted to start consultations with representative trade union organizations, in “the goal of reducing before 2027 extra days of leave Biat agents. A mission that, therefore, should ultimately fall to his successor, Gabriel Attal, and the future Minister of Higher Education.

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