ATA News

What’s your experience? Track it!

Question: I understand the way teaching experience is calculated changed in 2019. I have had a series of temporary contracts and am now on maternity leave. How does this affect me?

Answer: I want to thank my colleague Sharon Vogrinetz for providing an answer to a question that is very relevant as teachers start the next school year. 

The process for calculating teaching experience, which affects a teacher’s placement on the salary grid, changed substantially in the 2018–2020 collective agreement. Teachers still climbing the salary grid need to pay attention to the teaching experience being reported, particularly if any portion of their service includes partial years, part-time service or leaves of absence.

As teachers earn experience, their salary on the grid will increase until they reach a maximum of 9 or 10 years of experience. The tricky thing is that the definition of what constitutes a year of service has changed. 

Prior to September 2019, the number of days required varied by school jurisdiction, with most requiring 125 days. Once a teacher accrued those days, their increment was awarded the following September or February (whichever came first). However, the number of days worked between earning the increment and the date the increment took effect did not count toward future increments. Those days just disappeared.

This all changed in the 2018–2020 agreement. As of September 1, 2019, unused days no longer disappear; they remain available to be used in future years. Furthermore, teaching experience is now accrued in the same way in all school jurisdictions in Alberta. 

Teachers now need 140 days to earn an increment. While this is more than before, by banking unused days for the future, this arrangement will greatly advantage those who take parental leaves, work part-time or have a series of shorter-term contracts. Teachers working full-year, full-time contracts are unaffected. 

Teachers should keep track of all the days they work under contract in each school year to ensure they are paid an increment at the correct time. The easiest way to do this is to keep your own record. If you have a series of temporary or probationary contracts, at the end of each school year, ask each employer to provide you with a statement of your experience for that year, including days under contract and days working as a substitute teacher. 

All days worked under a contract count. Days worked as a substitute teacher will count for that same employer if they are worked within the previous five years. 

Here’s an example of a teacher who worked full time for three years and then started a maternity/parental leave in 2022/23, taking 18 months of leave and returning February 2024.

School Year Grid
Employment Days Earned Days Used for Increment Days Banked or Used Days Left in Bank
19/20 0 Full Time (FT) 200 140 +60 60
20/21 1 FT 200 140 +60 120
21/22 2 FT 200 140 +60 180
22/23 3 Paid Maternity Leave Sept-Oct, Unpaid Parental Leave Nov-June 40 40 plus 100 from bank -100 80
23/24 4 Unpaid Parental Leave Sept-Jan, FT Feb-June 100 100 plus 40 from bank -40 40
24/25 5 FT 200 140 60 100


This is a significant change that will advantage teachers, especially women who lose service while taking parental leave and who constitute the majority of teachers on part-time contracts.

Don’t assume your school board tracks these days—keep your own records and verify your grid placement every year.
If you have any questions, please contact Teacher Employment Services (TES) for assistance at or 1-800-232-7208. ❚ 

Questions for consideration in this ­column are welcome. Please address them to Dennis Theobald at

Dennis Theobald with silver white goatee and hair wearing a dark suit and tie in front of a black background.
Dennis Theobald

ATA Executive Secretary