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Been on a fixed term contract for 3 years...

Discussion in 'Pregnancy' started by Amyane, Mar 3, 2020.

  1. Amyane

    Amyane New commenter

    Hello! I need general advice!

    So I have been at my school for 3 years doing a non-teaching role. When I first got the role it was based on a one year trial (as it was a brand new role that they created) and they were not sure if it would fit with the schools structure. It was only two days a week, which was perfect for me, as I did other things outside of school. The role was perfect! The students responded really well to the work, and the school were very pleased with how everything was going.

    I am now in my 4th academic year, and I currently do 5 days a week. This year, I had to wait a few weeks into the new school year to get a contract, and I was devastated that it was a fixed term contact again, which would finish in July 2020. Since I upped my days, the pay is simply not enough (I would be better off doing what I started off with...2 days a week), and I felt really undervalued (even though I kept on getting comments like, "you are brilliant...we do not want to loose you..."etc). I did raise both issues with my line manager, but it seems to have hit a brick wall, and nothing has been done since then.

    I made up my mind in January that it's time to move on as there is no room for progression (career or pay wise), and I started job hunting in January, so that I could hand in my notice by the end of February. Then during the half-term, I found out that I was 5 weeks pregnant! It was a very big surprise! It's my first pregnancy, so a lot of questions are now swimming in my mind.

    My worries are the following:

    Should I put a hold on applying for other posts? (I know I have missed the 28th February cut off point...)

    Should I tell the head about my pregnancy, and my worries about a non permanent contract and low pay?

    Should I enquire about another contract for next year so that I can qualify for Maternity Leave and Pay?

    Any advice, would be very much appreciated!
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    As far as maternity leave and pay go, you will qualify for SMP if you begin your maternity leave before your contract ends. You can start it up to 11 weeks before due date, so that's probably doable. If not, you will qualify for Maternity Allowance, which is the same amount apart from the first six weeks. The latter will also apply if you switch jobs before starting maternity leave.

    So the bigger question is what can you do to ensure you have a job to go back to.

    If you're not a teacher, does the 28th Feb cut-off apply to you? Usually other posts have shorter notice periods, especially ones that finish in July. And what reason have they given for the temporary contract? Was last year's similar in terms of finishing in July (a nasty trick to prevent you acquiring four years' continuous service)?

    Your school, and any you apply to, are not allowed to discriminate on grounds of pregnancy, although once you're showing then it's usually easy enough for another employer to find some other reason to prefer another candidate. It might be easier to apply for posts now, but non-teaching posts for July/later aren't likely to be advertised for a while, so if your notice period is really that long, that's a problem.

    Have you told your school you're making applications elsewhere? If you make it clear that you'll be continuing to do that while you are on a temporary contract, it's possible that it might prompt them to change that. (You could do this before mentioning the pregnancy.) I guess you could also ask them about the notice period and whether that might be waived.
  3. Amyane

    Amyane New commenter

    Thank you for your reply!

    My contract ends in July. I did inform my new line manager about the pregnancy and my disappointment about my current work conditions. They were was also surprised about my ongoing treatment! That's reassuring to know that it's not in my head! My line manager has asked if I want to come back, and asked me to speak to the head directly (as the head is new...) about my current work conditions.

    I was told the reason for the temporary contract was because of "budget cuts". I wish they explained that before July 2019 rather than the middle of September 2019! It would have allowed me to seek a permanent role elsewhere!

    However with the Covid-19 now a big thing, it's causing so much worry for me due to the fact that no one knows if school will close until July (as one member of SLT told me...).

    Worrying times!

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