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Called as a witness to court

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by JodiP, Dec 11, 2019.

  1. JodiP

    JodiP Occasional commenter

    I was called as a witness to a court case. I have letters from the solicitors saying that my presence was required. I forwarded these to the school. I was required for a second day for cross examination - this was also put in writing from the solicitors and sent to my school.
    School are now saying I have to take these two days unpaid.
    Where do I stand?
  2. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

  3. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    I'd check with my Union, but I'd also consider speaking to the court - pointing out that this is, in effect, an encouragement for members of the public not to do their civil duties. Next time you might not be prepared to be a witness.
  4. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I am not sure what your union can do about it, unless the school policy says that they will pay, as the law is on the school's side. And, the court can compel you to give evidence, so they are not going to be impressed by you complaining to them.

    I do sympathise and think it unfair that the loss of earning you can get is capped. If your school deducts 1/365 of your annual salary, which I believe is the correct amount although I am not totally sure, the £67 a day you can claim as a prosecution witness works out at £24,555 per year, which I assume is less than your salary. I don't know if this is taxable, though. Or if there are implications for pensions.

    If you are a defence witness, then I suggest you try to claim for your full lost salary. The link I gave above is very unclear on the subject. This is something your union might be able to help with.
  5. janavis467

    janavis467 New commenter

    Does this mean that, if you're on a temporary contract, where you stand to get permanent status after a certain length of unbroken service (do those still exist?) that you lose that unbroken service?
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Do check what your school policy says about time off in term time. Although the law does not require the school to pay you the school should have a policy about time off to be a court witness and whether the time is paid or unpaid. Probably unpaid, although some employers will pay you the difference between the loss of earnings expenses you can claim from the court and your full salary.

    Also check how much salary they are going to deduct. It should be 1/365th of your annual salary unless there is a school policy that says otherwise.
  7. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    I would expect the Union to be able to say 'I'm afraid most schools locally/nationally don't pay' or perhaps 'In fact most schools we know in your town DO pay' etc. Might provide some ammunition to challenge the HT's decision.
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    No. Your contract continues, you have been granted a day's (unpaid) leave so you aren't school teaching but you are still an employee. You aren't dismissed the day before and rehired the day after.
  9. shevington

    shevington Occasional commenter

    If you have lost money, do not give any of your FREE TIME or GOOD WILL to the school.
    Morninglover likes this.
  10. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    can you claim for lost earning from the court? I know Jury members can do
  11. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    That is covered in the link I gave. If you are a prosecution witness, you can claim up to £67 a day for loss of earnings. If not, then it is vague about what you can do. "If the court usher does not give you an expenses form, ask the court or the defence lawyer if you’re able to claim expenses for your time in court.".
    Corvuscorax likes this.
  12. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    It's not the school's fault that they have to pay for a supply teacher. The school doesn't get compensation. So taking this out on the school isn't very logical.
    Piranha and Rott Weiler like this.
  13. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    School has a choice whether or not to pay the OP. Why should they lose a day's pay?
  14. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Because they didn't do the day's work?
  15. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    If they are required to attend court (and last time I looked, failing to do so can lead to legal consequences), then why should they be out of pocket? When I was i/c cover, we had several teachers on jury service (not at the same time!) and they didn't lose the day's pay.

    I would suggest that HTs who don't allow staff a day off with pay for appearing in court a s a witness probably shouldn't do so for anything else as there are few other reasons for absence which are legally enforceable. If I lost a day's pay in similar circumstances, and heard that a colleague had a day off with pay for other reasons, I'd be looking at discrimination.
  16. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    Seriously, how often does something like this happen? If the school wants to keep good teachers and get people onside, then perhaps day off with pay is the way to go. I doubt that it will break the bank year after year.
    strawbs, Piranha and Morninglover like this.
  17. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I totally agree. I also think that the legal system should be prepared to pay a decent amount for loss of earnings,. After all, they are the ones who insist that you go attend.

    The same is true of jury service, where the loss of earning payment is capped. When I did this for a fortnight, my employer paid me as usual, but some others lost out.
    strawbs likes this.
  18. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    In my school staff we pay staff who are on jury servcie or attending as a witness (voluntarily or under summons) the difference between the maximum expenses they can claim from the court and their normal pay. I support that as a proper use of our discretion as a caring employer.

    But that wasn't the question you asked. You clearly think that if it isn't the teacher's fault that they can't come to work the school should have a duty to pay them. ie the employer should be out of pocket not the employee. Well I disagree. It's not the school's fault the employee can't come to work either, or the school's fault that the legal system is underfunded by government and can't fully reimburse lost earnings.

    Well you'd be wasting your time then. Which Protected Characteristic under the Equality Act do you think could be relevant in that situation?
    Flanks and Piranha like this.
  19. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    Schools waste thousands of pounds putting senior managers on expensive courses which have no impact on the kids. Don't get me started on the ridiculous waste of money spent on releasing people to sit on huge interview panels for really ordinary posts. If once in a blue moon they have to forfeit a day's pay for an ordinary classroom teacher it isn't going to make much of a dent in the budget for supply.
    Piranha likes this.
  20. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    I thought (and think) that such a person as the OP shouldn't be out of pocket - and from what you say, you agree.

    I also think that if a HT refused to use their discretion to allow a day off with pay in this case (where the OP might well have had no choice but to attend court), but did on other occasions when (to use a few I remember) a teacher 'had' to attend their child's school sports day; or nativity play; of pick up a relative from the airport etc. - then if I were the OP I would be asking whether I had been discriminated against (nothing about 'protected characteristic'. Favouritism of this sort might well be seen as discriminatory.

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