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AWR issues

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by MsHavisham, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. MsHavisham

    MsHavisham New commenter

    Last Christmas I took a maternity cover post. It was in a primary school for a year contact. It was on a low rate - £120 a day, but the agency told me that AWR would kick in and I would be paid the going rate - I am M6. I liked the school so it seemed worth taking.

    However the 12 week period happened to fall during lockdown. I was lucky enough to still be paid, so didn't want to make a fuss. In July the Head asked me to stay for a full year which I agreed to thinking it would be at AWR rate. I contacted the agency about AWR rate and it was confirmed that I would be paid this in September - £175 a day. Wow! I was very happy.

    Today the head approached me to say that the school has just been told about my pay increase. She was very nice but said the school can't afford it and they may have to cut my hours to 3.5 days a week. I felt really guilty and agreed I could work for less than £175 if the agency would also lose some of their profit and pay me more. I think the agency have put me in a really difficult situation.

    I have contacted the agency to complain but no doubt they will ignore it. Just feel so upset about this. I am a single mother with a disabled daughter so really need all the money. Should I just continue to work for the low amount? Should I cut to 3.5 days and sign on with other agencies to try and pick up the other day? Should I be glad to be working at all?

    Any advice/comments would be very welcome.
  2. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Be very careful what you agree to. Schools ask what previous salary was. I know someone who accepted a low salary then her next job matched her most recent salary.

    Also, it's the school putting you in a difficult situation. They should be negotiating with the agency, not you.

    And once you're working there will they pile on the workload?

    It's a difficult situation but only you can decide. If it was me I might accept 3 days and ask agency for work on the other days. Might be sporadic but from what you say you will be paid the same but get some time for yourself.

    Talk to the agency. Stick to your daily rate.
    Mrs-Pip, agathamorse and MsHavisham like this.
  3. MsHavisham

    MsHavisham New commenter

  4. MsHavisham

    MsHavisham New commenter

    I think that is very sensible advice. It won't do me any good to accept lower than I am worth :)

    I was with a few other agencies and it won't harm to re-register with them for the odd day's work. Also, as you say, more time to myself.

    Thanks for taking the time to reply with this advice, it is much appreciated. Sometimes it's just good to hear from someone who understands how it all works.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    You're welcome. I have made most of the mistakes it's possible to make ...it's good to make use of some of that experience.

    Do see if your agency can talk to the school. It's in the agency's interest for you to stay there long term. Don't accept a price cut from the agency. Don't engage with the school on salary, direct them to your agency. If you get dropped by the school I would blame them rather than the agency.

    I have a disabled son (now grown up). It is a nightmare trying to juggle everything.

    Good luck.
    agathamorse and MsHavisham like this.
  6. steviepal

    steviepal Occasional commenter

    Hmmm. 75 pounds less per week and 1.5 days extra free. I'd be quite happy about that but I'm a lazy sod.
    agathamorse and MsHavisham like this.
  7. MsHavisham

    MsHavisham New commenter

  8. MsHavisham

    MsHavisham New commenter

    Hmm - I must admit the fact that I got so stressed about this yesterday probably means that I should take the extra 1.5 days to relax. :)
    agathamorse likes this.
  9. steviepal

    steviepal Occasional commenter

    Accentuate the positive etc..,
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    Good morning,
    A couple of things to bear in mind in this scenario. One, it is that word 'unprecedented' but that is no excuse to allow yourself to be manipulated or treated poorly. You can be slightly forgiving of the agency and school but ultimately you need to ensure you are getting what you deserve.
    Secondly: As far as I understand it, the Covid situation has 'Frozen' the AWR clock (unless you were working on LT during lockdown) as, similar to School holidays, the opportunities to work have been heavily limited by external forces, so as soon as you set foot in that school again to teach it is ILLEGAL for you NOT to receive full AWR rate. You cant really 'un-negotiate' that rate as even if you sign something that the agency draft, it is superceded by the AWR as it is law. This is something the supply teaching world has lobbied heavily for, for decades now.
    Thirdly, top-scale AWR rate is now £188 per day I believe for M6 (out of London) so, again, the school may not be thrilled about that.
    As an overview of this, a decent agency would have informed the school that these changes would have kicked in at 12 weeks when the booking was made. Furthermore, a School with even a modicum of awareness of their supply budget should have factored this in. It is not your job to negotiate (up or down) after 12 weeks, it is a legal matter and if the school pull the plug or alter the booking as a result of your pay then it becomes an 'AWR Avoidance' matter. You can pursue this with your Unions who can enforce the full pay and conditions as per the 12 week rule.
    This can cause some friction with schools but ultimately they are attempting to skirt their legal responsibilities.
    Lastly, you can try and be creative about how you approach the school. Something along the lines of 'I can work three days a week as a teacher and two days a week as a Cover Supervisor/HLTA' which could lower their costs to approx the same as you working at 5 days a week at your old rate and maximise your incomings, but again, its a work around and may not sit well. I think its important to impress on the school that your raise in rate is not just you money-grabbing, it is your legal, professional, set-by-the-government deserved pay rate and that they had you on the cheap for months on end prior to that.

    Good luck.
    agathamorse and MsHavisham like this.
  11. MsHavisham

    MsHavisham New commenter

    Thanks edu80. Just an update. I told the school and the agency that I wanted £175 per day so would work 3.5 days and look for other supply work elsewhere. I felt glad that I had stood up for myself.

    The Head called me in today to say that she had negotiated further with the agency. They were willing to 'absorb some of the costs' and the school have found some more money. I was very pleased and the head seemed to think it was all sorted.

    The agency are now pushing me to take less money! There was an inference that this would help the school but the Head had already told me it was sorted. So I assume they are just trying to claw some money back - they are asking for me to have £165 a day with a very long email with all sorts of reasons why this is a good deal.

    I am feeling inspired by edu80 so have sent a short reply stating I will only accept £175. Not sure what else they can do.
    agathamorse likes this.
  12. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Excellent! Well done. Stand your ground with the agency.
  13. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    That's great news MsHavisham, and well done for standing up for yourself.
    There are good agencies and bad agencies, like there are good schools and not-so-good schools, but it sounds like unfortunately you have an agency that are willing to break the law to save a few quid.
    If you want to send some counter shots across the brow it may be worth pointing out that although it 'may be a good idea' from the agencies point of view there is the small matter of the LEGAL REQUIREMENT to be paid to scale after 12 weeks of assignment. remind them that the actual AWR rate for M6 is £188 a day and see what they say.
    If you REALLY want to go to town on them you can wait til the assignment is finished and then work out how much they have underpaid you over the course of it all (it will be close to £750 underpayment per term on the numbers you've given me) and then approach your unions who will hound them to pay it. I have seen it happen on numerous occassions and the agency don't have a leg to stand on, but it depends on your outlook. Also the agency may be quite reticent to work with you again so you would need other work options but it sounds like they aren't much cop anyway.

    Lastly. Is that £175 a PAYE rate? Because if it isn't and you are paying a fee/percentage to an Umbrella or payment company, then the agency should be uplifting your pay to compensate for that additional cost to you.........AWR is about take home pay being correct and fair, not a shiny headline figure that ignores additional costs to you levied by the agency/umbrella co
    Mrs-Pip likes this.
  14. MsHavisham

    MsHavisham New commenter

    I wouldn't go anywhere near an umbrella company - it's PAYE or nothing for me. To be honest, I am happy with the £175 though I think it may mean I have a shorter contract, There is a teacher coming back from maternity leave at Chrismas and a NQT supply teacher leaving. The school may decide it's cheaper to keep the young NQT instead of me. So be it.

    I did reply to the agency and I'am afraid I did steal your words educ80 - the ones that said that it was my legal, professional set-by-the-government deserved pay rate!

    Thanks again to educ80 and Deirds - you gave me the courage to stand up for myself and it's resulted in a payrise of £55 a day - it will make a huge difference to me.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. BenjaminBoxer

    BenjaminBoxer New commenter

    A more than "satis" result. The educational world contains some lovely people but also some right "Orlicks" who will mug you given the chance. (Forgive the bad "Great Expectations" puns.) The massive positive here is that the school thought so positively of you that they've conceded better pay. I do hope you can somehow lock this in beyond Xmas. This is what really worries me about the supply world. Having done a lot of long term supply, I now have only short term work for another month. I worry about supply budgets being raided to pay for PPE and a Government that gives with one hand and then claws it back with another. Will there actually be any supply beyond Xmas?
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    @MsHavisham: If the Head wanted to cut your hours down to three-and-a-half days from five, who would be covering your class for these one-and-a-half days? Would they not need to be paid, too?
  17. MsHavisham

    MsHavisham New commenter

    As I am in Year 1 I have a full-time TA. As they are a HLTA the Head planned to ask them to cover the other 1.5 days. So there would have been no extra cost. I normally have them doing interventions/reading etc so I don't think it would have been ideal for the kids.
  18. MsHavisham

    MsHavisham New commenter

    Fingers crossed I will still be in this contract after Christmas - I know the Head didn't want this class to have any further disruptions after last year. If not, I am not looking forward to finding work elsewhere.
  19. Mrs-Pip

    Mrs-Pip New commenter

    £175 a day is a bargain for M6. Stick to your guns. The agency are only worried about their profit margins, that's all.
    agathamorse and Jolly_Roger15 like this.

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