The University of Jyväskylä announced in November that it would pay incentives to their entire staff. The management of the university decided on rewarding the staff because the exceptional year has required flexibility, patience, and many quick changes in the uncertain pandemic situation. The incentive amount is 10 percent of the salary for the month of September without supplements. However, this amounts to 400 euros minimum and 600 euros maximum for full-time personnel.
The incentive is paid to all personnel that had a valid employment contract with the university in both April and September 2020 and received a salary in both months. For associate lecturers, an incentive of 200 euros is paid to those with 250 or more teaching hours between January and November. University of Jyväskylä rector Keijo Hämäläinen stated in the university’s press release that the current financial situation of the university is stable and the outlook is positive.
According to Head Steward Erja Kosonen, the staff reacted to the news about the incentive with “surprised delight”.
“We haven’t had any travel or conference expenses because of the coronavirus, so the university has saved a lot of money from these costs. Looks like the saved funds are now being used to the staff’s benefit, based on the practice from previous years”, Kosonen says.
The University of Jyväskylä has paid incentives to all contracted employees in the past, but not in the last few years.
The incentive is not paid to doctoral students without a university employment contract, which has been criticised by some within the university.
According to Kosonen, the idea is to reward contracted staff in accordance with the practice used in previous years. The special teaching arrangements during the pandemic have increased the workload and responsibilities of these personnel. The intention behind the minimum and maximum sums is to focus the incentive primarily towards the teaching and research staff on average earnings, for whom the exceptional situation has introduced the most challenges.
University of Jyväskylä Finance and Service Director Päivi Seppä says the incentive is an acknowledgement of the committed work of the staff but not a direct result of the savings brought on by the COVID-19 situation.
“During COVID-19, the university budget has included both unreceived profits and unrealised expenses. However, the incentive decision was not made because of savings in the budget. A committed staff is the most important success factor to the university, and its importance has grown even further in such an exceptional year”, Seppä says. Katja Aho, Negotiation Manager for the Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals (JUKO) sees the incentive as positive news. Aho asked the Head Stewards of the other universities if COVID-19 crisis incentives were planned elsewhere.
“It seems there is no incentive for the entire staff at the other universities. They either pay no bonuses at all or performance-based bonuses”, Aho says.
Text: Terhi Hautamäki
Translation: Marko Saajanaho