Fact Check: NO Evidence Hungarian Teachers Are Resigning En Masse Due To 'Status Law'


  • szerzõ: Lead Stories
Fact Check: NO Evidence Hungarian Teachers Are Resigning En Masse Due To 'Status Law' No Hard Data

Are Hungarian teachers resigning en masse due to the new "status law," which alters the conditions of their employment? No, that's not true: While Hungary is struggling with a shortage of teachers, it is too early to tell if the law is responsible. A government minister said around 500 teachers had left their jobs as of July 27, 2023, adding that this is no different than the average number of summertime resignations in recent years. Teachers who wish to quit because of the new rules do not have to give notice until September 29, 2023, meaning no hard data on resignations was available at the time the claim was posted.

The claim appeared in a Hungarian-language video (archived here) posted on TikTok on September 16, 2023. The text, translated to English by Lead Stories staff, strikes out at the governing Fidesz party, saying:

The destruction of Fidesz!
They didn't find a teacher!
The children are the victims of the status law!
Thank Fidesz for the fact that teachers are resigning en masse!

The video showed a news story that aired on Hungary's ATV channel on August 29, 2023, about a small-town elementary school that had to shutter its doors because it was unable to hire a new teacher before the 2023-24 school year began. This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

TikTok screenshot

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Sep 21 02:54:30 2023 UTC)

The "status law," formally known as the Law on New Career Paths for Teachers, came into force on July 6, 2023. Among other measures, it raises teachers' maximum weekly work hours from 32 to 48 and allows officials to extend the school year by a month if they see fit. It grants authorities the right to discipline teachers who fail to fulfill a "substantial obligation arising from the public-education employment relationship," which critics interpret as the power to punish teachers who participate in protests or strikes. It also provides pay raises that teachers unions deem inadequate.

The law's passage sparked protests, with one website claiming it had collected statements from more than 5,000 teachers saying they would rather quit their jobs than work under these conditions.

Chancellery Minister Gergely Gulyás denied that "thousands of educators" had tendered their resignations. At the 1:01:53 mark of a video from a press conference on July 27, 2023, he said:

There is precise data [showing] that this is not true. Compared to this same period in recent years, the same number or fewer have resigned. In the summer, it's perhaps around 500... Also, we should add that, like every year, if someone transfers to another school, that counts as a resignation as well. So, based on the currently available data, teachers do not share the fear that the advantages they presently have in teaching, or the conditions applicable to education, will deteriorate as a consequence of the Career Paths model.

(Translation from Hungarian to English by Lead Stories staff).

The law required authorities to formally apprise teachers of their new work conditions by September 15, 2023. Teachers who wish to quit have until September 29, 2023, to give written notice, and their work contracts will expire on November 30, 2023. Anyone who resigns before September 15 or after September 29 will not be entitled to severance pay.

It is therefore impossible to know how many teachers will quit because of the status law until November 30, 2023, at the earliest, as Hungarian fact-checker Lakmusz points out.


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