Monday, 19 October 2009

Conductors' working hours

What is typical?
What is reasonable?

A conductor has written to me with a questiom that I cannot answer. Perhaps others can contribute:

I would be very interested to know what are typical working hours for conductors in other parts of the world. I am typically working 7:30am - 6:00pm or later. Do you have any idea on what is typical?

On the basis of a five-day week (and I do so hope that it is no more), and putting aside lunch-breaks etc, I reckon that this means a working week for he of 52.5 hours, ‘typically’.

I responded that there is no such thing as 'typical' here! Her own hours seem too long (not just for conductors but for truckers, shop assistants, anyone) and probably illegal in most countries where CE is trying to take root. Thy are probably not adding to her effectiveness as a conductor, or to her own health and well-being. Some conductors, on the other hand, work much shorter hours.

I offered to post her enquiry anonymously on Conductive World, and she agreed.

Conductors' terms and conditions of service

The matter of working hours is part of a wider question.

There is also a wide variation in holiday entitlement and other terms and conditions of service and of course there is the dreaded question of how much should conductors be paid.

All these are very important questions to those who ask them and who usually have no normative base, no factual idea of what others are doing, as a basis or their understandings and actions on this. How could they?
  • There appear to have been no formal surveys, anywhere.
  • If there have, the results have not been published
  • There appear to be no organisations, be they employers', employers' or regulatory, to monitor conductors' terms of service
Answering her question

There is no single, simple answer to such questions applicable in the vastly different circumstances in which conductors work (even within one country). Nor could or should there be. All the same, as my correspondent has suggested, it would be interesting to know what might be ’typical’.

In default of sounder information, perhaps readers of Conductive World could offer their own experiences, or opinions on this, anonymously if they wish. What are ‘typical’ working hours?

What should they be?

And how should this be sorted out?

Previous item + comments on conductors’ terms and conditions


  1. Speaking from personal experience, if you are not part of a conductor team and/or you work as a conductor-teacher and/or you're based in a non -educational settings (not part of a school or kindergarden)I think the hours 'the letter writer conductor' described are normal.(with some occasional 2-3 hours paperwork during the weekends)
    This is not the number what the work contract shows, but it's reality.In these cases you are either responsible for everything that normally a conductor team would split between the members or you have subject plannings to do, exercise books to mark, motivations to make, Annual and Seasonal Reports to write etc.
    It is very different from the Hungarian model, but there are advantages as well.After a while it feels normal, and now I enjoy my days when I get to the shops before they close.
    It isn't the number of working hours (but it also counts) that makes me believe more and more that a conductor team is more important in providing quality 'holistic' CE than any other 'element' of CE.Working in a team makes you feel motivated, professionally inspired, supported and energised [in the ideal team :)], working alone makes you feel alone.
    Teaching is a self-reflection:I can only teach what I know. Therefore I/we need to spend enough time on experiencing my/our own life so I/we can pass on a bigger, more colorful, more diverse , more exciting world of knowledge to the children. In Israel there is a sabbatical year for teachers as well. After every seven years of teaching they have a year rejuvenate their body and mind. Isn't that wonderful?
    I hope all conductors will have a restful half term break filled with fun and laughter!

  2. What are the normal hours a conductor works?

    As Andrew says there is no answer to this, but surely the real answer is as many hours as the conductor decides to work. Conductors after all make the decision to take a position or, if self-employed as I am, accept work offered for a set period of time. The working hours are written into the contract.

    52 ½ hours is excessive and, as Andrew points out, is detrimental to health and, in most countries, probably illegal.

    I decide on the hours that I work, depending on the amount of money that I need and the amount of energy that I have. Except of course when there is no work available!

    I do sometimes have a long day, I offer, for example, a worker’s group once a week. This can only take place in the evening, so this can mean a 11-hour day depending on what I do for the rest of the day. But I only do it once a week, and I give myself a short day once in a while if I need it.

    Conductors who are employed must surely discuss their working hours and how overtime is dealt with (paid or in time-off) before they sign a contract. Or don’t they?

    I am sure that all educators take work home with them, marking or preparation that hasn’t been completed at work, but I assume that this isn’t what the question is about. I got the impression that the conductor was asking about 'hands-on' work, in a group with clients.

    If this is the case 52 ½ is certainly too much. I think any hours over the 38 1/2 – 40, which I think is probably the norm for most of Europe, need to be considered overtime and paid for accordingly.

    Really isn’t it the responsibility of the individual to decide the hours that they work at the time they are agreeing to all the other terms in the contract that they sign.

    I often think about the working hours at the Petö Institute when this topic comes up for discussion. I wonder whether it was a conscious decision so the conductors could always give of their best, or whether it was just the norm in Eastern Europe.

    Three shifts to an approximately fourteen-hour working day with overlapping times: that makes a shift 5- 6 hours long. Of course there is paperwork to do, and meetings to attend on top of this, but six hours hands on would be the norm on most days.

    30 hours a week with clients and 8-10 for preparation, meetings, home-visits, report writing etc. seem about right to me. Unless of course you are self–employed, running your own business, then the counting of hours becomes an unknown foreign language.