Court declares preschool teacher wages unconstitutional

On Thursday, June 29, the Constitutional Court found the government's approved lower rate of wages for pre-school teachers to be inconsistent with the Constitution, stating that the stability of the state and local government budgets is not an excuse to pay kindergarten teachers less than other teachers.

The lowest monthly salary rate for preschool teachers as of January 1, 2023, is EUR 1,070.

The case was brought before the Constitutional Court after an application by 38 deputies of the previous Saeima.

The Constitutional Court stated that the differences in the work of the teaching organization are not considered to be significant, since the work of all educators, regardless of which level of education they work, is aimed at one common objective of ensuring the acquisition of high-quality general education.

On the other hand, the skills, responsibility, and working conditions necessary for the performance of this work are equivalent, despite the special characteristics at each level of education.

Therefore, all teachers, regardless of the level of education they work, perform equal-value work and are in the same and comparable conditions, the court concluded.

The government has established a system for the remuneration of general education teachers, in which the remuneration of teachers must be provided not only from State budget resources and targeted grants, but also from local government budgets. The government has decided to eliminate inequalities in terms of lower rates of wages for pre-primary education teachers by January 1, 2025 and has repeatedly amended the regulations by gradually aligning the lower rates of wages for pre-school teachers. Yet it still differs from the lower salary rates of other educators.

Although the Court acknowledged that the gradual alignment of the rate may be based on considerations related to the need to ensure the stability of the public and local government budgets, such arguments are not sufficient to justify the legitimate objective of a different treatment.

“The stability of the state and local government budget in itself cannot be used as an excuse for a different treatment of groups of individuals who are in the same and according to certain criteria in comparable circumstances,” the Constitutional Court concluded.

Accordingly, the Constitutional Court recognized the norms of Cabinet regulations, which determine the lower salary rate for preschool education teachers, as not in conformity with the principle of legal equality included in Section 91, first sentence of the Constitution, and as of January 1, 2024, the rules will be declared as invalid.

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