ArticlesPrivate School Teachers (Regarding the “sacred cows” and the lost privileges)

September 6, 2020by Stavros Koumentakis

The recent law on private education, which we approached in our previous article, came to change the status quo. To abolish privileges (of a small) portion of employees. Privileges that do not seem to have a place in a country like Greece, where the right to property is constitutionally recognized. Where entrepreneurship is also constitutionally recognized, it exists and it develops. Where the development of the national economy presupposes (regardless of the parliamentary majority) the strengthening of healthy entrepreneurship. Privileges that do not seem to have a place, in general, in the year 2020. Among the privileges that have been abolished, one seems to have created the strongest reactions. The abolition of the (de facto) permanence (or perhaps longevity?) Of private school teachers.

The employment status and employment relationships of private school teachers have, over time, been enjoying impressive privileges. In fact, regardless of the quality of the educational work provided by them. Regardless of the satisfaction of their supervisors, their students and parents. The termination of their employment contracts could not be described as an easy (at a legal level) case. The opposite. This regardless of whether they were excellent, less good, mediocre or bad.


Dismissal or, more precisely, replacement?

But let us list, in quotation marks, some related questions.

Is the termination of a teacher’s employment contract (under any conditions) equivalent to a common termination? The dismissal, in other words, of (any other) employee? In case of termination of the employment contract of a private school teacher, are we talking about the loss of another job in the direction of saving resources from an (analgesic) employer? To burden other employees with the work of the dismissed?

The answer is no, and that is a given!

Educators “fit”, as we all know, in some departments (eg teachers). However, they may also fit into more specific departments (eg philologists, mathematicians). However, all, without exception, cover specific, maximum, teaching hours in specific departments / classes. This means that in each school, without exception, a specific (proportional) number of teachers should serve. If we terminate a teacher’s employment contract, we will have to hire another in their place.

The owner of a private school, therefore, does not have the opportunity to fire a teacher “to save money”. They are obliged (secondarily by law) to cover teaching hours. To meet, above all, the needs of the school and their students. They are consequently obliged to replace the teacher whose contract they intend to terminate.

Therefore, the jobs of private school teachers in a private school always remain stable. Under the self-evident condition, of course, of maintaining the same number of students. Termination of the contract of a private school teacher presupposes their replacement by another.

And seeing the same issue from another point of view: Is it not, for the benefit of the school, its owner (but mainly the students and their parents) to replace the “problematic cases” (which are always found in employees & professionals) with excellent teachers? With teachers who will have excellent educational work to demonstrate and provide?


The attitude of the State, over time, towards private education

The establishment of private schools and the legal regime that governs their operation, has bothered our country for about two centuries.

The Constitution of Greece of 1827 was the one that established (article 20) the principle of freedom of private education. It foresaw the possibility for Greeks to establish schools and to choose educators. («Greeks have the right to establish any educational facility … and to choose the teachers that will be their educators.»).

In the subsequent Constitutions, however, there was a corresponding guarantee. At the same time, the obligation to license the establishment of private schools by the state was provided.

The current Constitution (article 16 §8) recognizes the possibility of establishing and operating “schools that do not belong to the state”. It grants to the law the determination of the conditions and terms of “granting permission for their establishment and operation”, the matters related to the supervision exercised over them… “.

Laws, over time, regulated these issues. Among them is Law 682/1977 “On private schools of general education and boarding schools”. Some provisions of which are still in force. Others have undergone a number of modifications.

The State, therefore, systematically and constitutionally recognizes (for two centuries now) private education. One would expect from the (among other, benefitted) private educators an effort to improve the private education provided. For one simple reason, before others: securing their jobs.


The (fair?) Struggle of the employees for the abolition of the companies for which they work

“The main purpose of the Federation of Employees’ Associations in super markets is the abolition of these super markets.”

“The main purpose of the Federation of Associations of Doctors and Nurses in private clinics is the abolition of said clinics.”

Can one imagine that an employee would fight for the abolition of their profession? How could a collective / trade union body have as its statute the abolition of the companies in which its employees are employed?

Looks like a (double) joke.

It could be…

However, this does not regard the (particularly likeable) employees in the supermarkets. Nor the doctors and nurses working in private clinics. Not even their Federations.

But it really concerns a category of employees. Those to whom we must trust (?) the education of our children. More precisely: the Federation of Private Educational Officials of Greece (: FPEOG)


The statutory purposes of FPEOG

The statute previously in force

In paragraph 7 of article 2 “regarding the Objectives” of the previously in force (legally approved and duly submitted) statute of FPEOG we read:

“… In this context, the main purpose of F.P.E.O.G. is the abolition of private education ”

This provision became a tool to reveal the (true) intentions of FPEOG. It recieved, as long as it lasted, great reactions. It therefore had to be replaced with a more sleek one. More precisely: it was artfully “camouflaged”.

The current statute

In paragraph 7 of Article 2 “regarding the Objectives” of the (currently in force-posted on the relevant website) statute of FPEOG, we read:

“… In this context, the main purposes of F.P.E.O.G.  are: a) The strengthening of the public, social and non-profit nature of education of all forms, types and levels, b) for Education to operate under the responsibility of teachers… If the existing protective legislative framework of the above constitutional purposes is abolished, the operation private education will now be in conflict with Article 16 of the Constitution and will have no reason to exist”.

Despite the “artful” cover-up attempt, no doubt remains about the (timeless) true intentions of FPEOG. Intentions summarized in the following sections: Abolition of private education. Abolition of private schools. Abolition of the profession of private school teachers.


The reasons for the (statutory) effort of FPEOG to abolish private education

The (reasonable) questions and the logical answers

Reasonable questions are raised by the timeless (from its statute arising-undisputed and official) effort of FPEOG for the abolition of private education.

In our attempt to approach its true motives, let us attempt a “dive” through time. Let us refer to the pre-existing forms of the basic legislation of Law 682/1977.

The conclusion to be drawn is that private school teachers did not really want to improve the private school education provided. They wanted, over time, to become civil servants. Alternatively: to enjoy the privileges of civil servants. Often in an improved version.


Initial wording of Law 682/1977

The specific law, in its original form (Article 30) provided:

«8. Private educators who are employed on a permanent or indefinite basis and are dismissed due to the closing of the school in which they serve are not entitled to compensation.

  1. Those mentioned in the previous paragraph, as well as those belonging to table A` who are dismissed in the case f` of par. 4 of article 33 of the present, are employed upon their request, with the rank they have, in respective schools of public general education under private law for an indefinite period of time, to meet existing needs, with the conclusion of a relevant contract between them and the Minister of National Education and Religions.

Those are placed, by decisions of the Minister of National Education and Religions, in public schools, operating outside the prefectures of Attica and Thessaloniki for at least three years… »


The subsequent amendments of law 682/1977 (of 1980 & 1981)

The formulation of this provision with subsequent additions from Laws 1035/1980 and 1143/1981 (which were valid until 30.9.1985-when they were abolished by article 95 par. 13 of Law 1566/1985), help us to extract critical conclusions. Specifically:

«8. Private educators who are employed on a permanent or indefinite basis and are dismissed due to the closing of the school in which they serve are not entitled to compensation.

  1. Those mentioned in the previous paragraph, as well as those belonging to table A` who are dismissed in the case f` of par. 4 of article 33 of the present, are employed upon their request, with the rank they have, in respective schools of public general education under private law for an indefinite period of time, to meet existing needs, with the conclusion of a relevant contract between them and the Minister of National Education and Religions.

(addition with par. 3 of article 11 of L.1035 / 1980 (Government Gazette A 60):

“For those employed by decisions of the Minister of National Education and Religions in Public Schools, the current provisions on Public Education Officers apply regarding their placement and transfer.”

(added by article 30 of Law 1143/1981):

“For the completion of the time of service required by the provisions for the transfer of private school teachers, outside the prefectures of Attica and Thessaloniki, their previous service in public education is taken into account. “Teachers serving in public education in employment under private law do not occupy an organic position in the schools but are placed within the same city to meet existing service needs.”


Useful conclusions

(a) Any private school teacher dismissed after 1977 was employed in a public school. Initially outside Athens and Thessaloniki. However, from the year 1980 until the year 1985, they could be hired in the specific urban centers as well.

(b) The dream of every citizen of modern Greece (: recruitment in the public sector) could therefore, very easily, become reality for a private educator. As long as they were hired (and then fired) by a private school. They would be hired, based on explicit legislation, in the public sector. And not in any capacity: (Obviously) as a teacher-civil servant in a public school.

(c) Employees of the private sector have never enjoyed tenure in their work. But the basic characteristic of civil servants is that of permanence (not to say, in reality, that they are guaranteed employment for life). From the year 1977 onwards (referring to the interim legislative-pre-existing regulations) we find wall (impressive in height and size) for the protection of private school teachers. In order for a private school to replace a (insufficient) teacher, it had to go through hell and back. Their replacement proved, in reality, impossible. The tenure of private school teachers had been achieved in another way. The employment contracts of other common mortals (:employees of the private sector) could be terminated, subject to the law. Labor law, in any case, extended a protective net to (common) employment contracts. The courts have always exercised strict control over the abusive and illegal dismissals of employees of the private sector. For teachers, however, this was never enough.

The abolition of private education would lead to a reasonable (?) Request to hire private school teachers in the public sector to meet the needs that would arise.


The termination of employment contracts of civil servants (and public school teachers)

Termination of employment contracts of civil servants

It is interesting to see the provisions and conditions for the dismissal of civil servants (: Law 3528/2007) -other than those concerning criminal convictions.


Under Article 152 (: Grounds for dismissal):

“The employee shall be dismissed only for the following reasons:

  1. a) the imposition of a disciplinary penalty of permanent cessation;
  2. b) physical or mental incapacity,
  3. c) removal of the position in which they serve,
  4. d) completion of the age limit and of thirty-five years;
  5. e) unsuitability according to article 95 of this Code “.



Under Article 95 (: Referral of an unpromoted employee):

“An employee who is registered in two consecutive lists of non-promoted to the same degree, is referred within two (2) months from the ratification of the relevant list to the service council, which, with a justified decision, and after the employee has been previously summoned in order to provide the necessary clarifications in writing or orally, may dismiss or demote the employee to some degree. An objection to this decision may be submitted to the Secondary Disciplinary Council “.


The basic conditions for dismissal of a civil servant

Continuing, let’s keep in mind that the public school teacher is dismissed from their position (after the two-year, probationary period) for reasons of: (a)… (b) physical or mental incapacity, (c) abolition of the position in which they serve, (d ) … and (e) unsuitability resulting from their inclusion for two consecutive years in two consecutive tables of non-promoted. Let us also look for the relevant provisions regarding the conditions of the termination of the employment contracts of private school teachers according to the pre-existing law.


The termination of private school teachers’ employment contracts – until recently

The institutional framework that was in force during the last three years – until the implementation of law 4713/20

Based on article 30 of law 4472/2017 (: Employment relationship, duration of contract-termination of employment relationship):

«1. Teachers in private schools are employed on a fixed-term or indefinite-term basis as defined in the following paragraphs.

  1. Private school teachers are proposed for recruitment by the owner of the private school and after the approval of the proposal by the Director of the relevant Directorate, they conclude a fixed-term contract, which starts on the day the services are provided by the teacher and ends on August 31st of the second year from their recruitment. At the end of the two years the owner can terminate the contract. After the lapse of two years and if the contract is not terminated according to the above, it is automatically converted into a contract of indefinite duration.
  2. The contract for an indefinite duration may be terminated only for the following reasons:
  3. a) If the employer invokes and proves a sufficiently justified disturbance of the educational climate in the school due to the inability of the employer-teacher cooperation.
  4. b) Shutting down of schools.
  5. c) Shutting down of classes and class divisions. In this case, it is permissible to dismiss those who have the least previous experience in education and their working hours are zero. Teachers who also the owners of the schools are excluded from these redundancies.
  6. d) Completion of the 70th year of the age of the teachers.
  7. e) Private school teachers are fired by the owner of the school they work at, due to:

(aa) physical or mental incapacity ascertained by the local primary health committee concerned and, at the objection of the person concerned, by the secondary public health committee;

  1. bb) completion of the service time that establishes the right to receive a full pension from an insurance institution of private school teachers. In this case, the termination of the employment relationship occurs at the end of the academic year,

(cc) the imposition of the disciplinary penalty of dismissal by the relevant disciplinary board;

  1. dd) didactic, pedagogical or professional inconsistency based on at least two (2) reports and relating to at least two (2) consecutive teaching years with criteria determined by the Institute of Educational Policy, the first of which is prepared by the school principal and is notified to the competent educational project coordinator who has the scientific responsibility of the relevant branch and the second is prepared by the school unit director and notified to the above educational project coordinator, who adds an additional report, if they deem it appropriate and especially if their opinion differs from that of the Director.


  1. A private school teacher is automatically dismissed, if he / she is sentenced by an irrevocable decision to a penalty resulting in dismissal for the civil servants.


  1. The employment contract between the owner of a private school and the teacher is terminated upon death, disqualification, acceptance of resignation and termination of the employment contract and a relevant act is issued by the competent Director of Education.

The legality of the termination of the employment contract for the reasons provided in indent a` and sub-indent dd` of indent e` of paragraph 3 is decided by an independent Committee, which examines whether the employment contract was terminated legally and whether the termination is abusive or not and rules on the matter.

This Committee is established by a decision of the Minister of Education, Research and Religions, which is issued within one month from the publication of this, and consists of:

  1. a) One (1) Judge of the Court of First Instance, as President, with their deputy, serving in the Labor Disputes Department of the Court of First Instance pf Athens…
  2. b) Two (2) Judges of the Court of First Instance serving in the Labor Disputes Department of the Athens Court of First Instance with their deputies….

One (1) representative of the Federation of Private Educators of Greece  and one (1) representative of the most representative employers’ organization nominated by its decision shall be present as observers, without the right to vote, at the meeting of the Committee.

The above Committee also takes into account the official reports, and meets and makes a mandatory decision within ninety (90) calendar days from the termination and submits its proposal to the competent Director of Education, before which it expresses its judgment on the legality of the termination of the employment contract, as stated above. The Director of Education has a binding authority to issue a relevant decision on the dismissal or not of the teacher, in accordance with the content of the Commission proposal within three (3) days from the submission of the proposal to them. This decision shall be notified to those concerned. In case of expiration of the said deadline, the legality and non-abusive nature of the dismissal is presumed. The termination of the teacher’s employment contract does not produce legal effects before the expiry of the deadline for the issuance of the relevant decision of the Commission. Following the issuance of the decision of the Director of Education, the interested parties can appeal to the competent administrative courts. In case of untimely issuance of the decision established by the Commission and until its issuance, the above procedure is not required for the termination of the contract.

“Dismissals of private school teachers that take place without following the above procedure are invalid.”



Comparing to the reasons for dismissal of public teachers

Private school teachers during the past three years could be fired:

(i) If the employer invoked and proved a sufficiently justified disturbance of the educational climate in the school due to inability of cooperation between the employer-teacher cooperation

(ii) In case of abolition of schools, classes and classrooms

(iii) In case of physical or mental disability

(iv) In case of retirement

(v) In case of imposition of the disciplinary penalty of dismissal by the relevant disciplinary board

(vi) In case of didactic, pedagogical inadequacy or professional inconsistency based on at least two (2) reports and concerning at least two (2) consecutive teaching years.

Does all this remind you of anything?

Let’s look at the reasons for terminating the employment contracts of civil servants…

The legality of terminating the employment contract of a private school teacher.

For ordinary mortals, the legality of the termination of their employment contract was determined a judge (: Single Member Court of First Instance). It seems that it was not enough to determine the legality of the termination of the employment contract of a private school teacher. Under the pre-existing institutional framework, three judges were required. Also, two observers (one of whom was a representative of FPEOG).

Could we claim that private school teachers were not treated favorably? Does this seem right?


The termination of private school teachers’ employment contracts-today

With par. 1 of the provision of article 10 of law 4713/20, article 30 of law 682/1977 is replaced. Their employment relations are henceforth governed by the “current provisions of common labor law” (par. 1).

But the protection of teachers did not fall exactly to the level of other working-class mortals. A privileged treatment is still reserved for them.

Specifically, in the next paragraph (par. 2) we read: “During the judicial review of the legality and possible abuse of the termination of the private school teacher’s employment contract… it is particularly examined whether the complaint constitutes an unfair employer reaction to the legal and contractual conduct of the private school teacher”

The process of replacing private school teachers (and “dismissing” them) is now governed by labor law.


It proves to be extremely interesting (both from a political and a socio-economic point of view) for someone to go through the “achievements” of the private school teachers’ trade union. Over time. From the year 1977 (especially) until quite recently.

One can also witness the evolution of a part of the political history of Greece.

They will not, however, witness a modern development model. Quite the opposite.

They will also not witness a measure of fair treatment of employees.

They will witness a means of dividing employees into “patricians” and “plebeians”. Or, to put it in Greek terms, into “free” and “slaves”.

The injustices (of decades) have been removed.

In the field of private education.

For other employees in the private sector.

It turns out, in the end, that some employees or industries should not be treated as “sacred cows”. Our faith on the Constitution (article 3) does not provide for their existence.

In the end: mourners were those women in black who usually mourned the dead, for a fee. It was, in the recent past, a profession. We met them again, on the occasion of the (recent) “loss” of specific privileges of private school teachers.

As far as I am concerned, however, I boldly declare that no tears were shed on the right cheek for the lost privileges of private school teachers.

And this is because the capable private school teachers (and not only the excellent ones) have no need for them.

On the contrary!

Besides, with their presence they brighten, for a long time now, the field of private education…

And, fortunately, they are the vast majority ..

Σταύρος Κουμεντάκης

Stavros Koumentakis
Managing Partner


P.S. A brief version of this article has been published in MAKEDONIA Newspaper (September 6, 2020).


Disclaimer: the information provided in this article is not (and is not intended to) constitute legal advice. Legal advice can only be offered by a competent attorney and after the latter takes into consideration all the relevant to your case data that you will provide them with. See here for more details.

Stavros Koumentakis
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(+30) 2310 27 80 84

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