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Can I declare a breach of contract

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by Bytor, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

    Hello folks.

    I'm new to supply teaching.

    I am with an agency who secured a post for me.

    Initially it was to be supply for a few days, but the school decided to extend when I started.

    I worked a Friday, completed the timesheet, and it was approved the following Monday.

    I did not receive payment for this on the following Friday.

    I called the agency, and was told me that the start of the placement on the Friday meant it was too late to sort out payment for the following Friday. I had to phone them to receive this excuse.

    Is such a delay the norm when starting a new placement at the end of a week?
    A week to process the payment should be sufficient, especially as the online timesheet was up and running, and approved by the school.

    Can I declare a breach of contract and go directly with the school and sign a contract with them without either of us facing a financial penalty?

    Any advice or input greatly appreciated.


  2. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    The system is going to be different between different agencies but if your claim was cleared on the Monday that might have been too late for payment that week. You should get the money the following week.

    One trick I have used in the past is submit a claim for Monday to Thursday on a Thursday evening to ensure I get that money promptly since it is sometimes possible to miss the Friday deadline if I get home late.
  3. teacha

    teacha Occasional commenter

    In this day and age, I don't like supply agencies that make you complete timesheets, which is why payment delays occur. My main agency just gets the school to confirm my days online, so I don't have to do anything and I get paid promptly.
  4. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the responses so far.

    Clearance of the timesheet by the school on the following Monday is the norm, and would not have been the cause of the delayed payment.

    I'm just cynical of the excuse given, and think it is BS from the agency.
  5. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    Some agencies only pay every other week. I like the idea of being able to complete time sheets online.
  6. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    What term(s) of your contract do you think have been breached? How frequently does it state that you will be paid?
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    In the six years In have worked on supply I have only had late payments twice. I am with one agency that has never made a mistake.

    If I were with agencies who paid late too many times, I wouldmfind different agencies.

    Bytornwhat you could do is find some different schools, ones you haven't gone to through agencies, and contact them directly for work.
  8. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    It is likely that the client school won't employ you directly now, because the contract that they have with the agency requires them to pay an introduction fee of 10% of your gross annual income. However it's fair to say the agency probably won't notice you've gone so it's worth a try.
    Don't bother taking action for breach of contract on the agency unless your contract specifically states the period within which it guarantees payment.
    I advise you join a union.
  9. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

    The agency should pay a week in arrears.
    They haven't.

    I am miffed that there excuse sounds a bit lame, and they neglected to inform me that there was a problem after they found out.

    They also told me nothing can be done in the interim, and I have to wait until the following Friday ie two weeks in arrears.

    The school were willing to put me on a contract directly with them, until they thought about the agency's introduction fee.

    The agency also told me that I would be on their supply rate, and it would only go up if I was taken on long-term. I was taken on long-term on the second day. The agency is dragging it's feet in contacting the school to discuss any increase.

    The delay in payment, and the reluctance to contact the school re the rate of pay (as promised) irks me. Hence my query as to whether it is sufficient to consitute a breach of contract between me and the agency. I would then seek a contract directly with the school.

  10. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    It would all depend on whether the failure to pay on time at the end of the first week would be deemed to be a breach of a condition of the contract (a fundamental breach) or a warranty (a minor breach). The latter entitles you to compensation but not to treat the contract as repudiated.

    I can well imagine the agency explaining that there were technical problems for the delay in your first week.

    You are at risk of being sued yourself for breach of contract if you walk away.
  11. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

    The agency merely said there was a problem (no sh*t; I didn't get paid), but without a decent explanation or solution.

    They just told me that starting on a Friday was too late for the pay run. Yet the online timesheet was accessible, completed before Sunday as required, and approved by the school on the Monday as is the norm.

    At the moment, I have been told that a regional manager is looking into it and must wait for them to contact me. This'll presumably be too late for a payment to be made before Friday.

    I wondered whether it could be construed as breach of contract as I had not been paid a week after completing the assigned day as per agreement despite completing the timesheet and it being approved.

    I wait with baited breath to see if I get paid for the whole of last week, plus the delayed day.
  12. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    As with everything in law, there is never a hard and fast answer - everything is specifically fact-dependent.

    My feeling is that it would be hard to prove a repudiatory breach of contract solely on the basis of a late first payment. It would be so easy for the agency to defend with an explanation of technical hiccups and the burden of proof, remember, would be on you to prove that the problem was a fundamental breach and not something beyond their control.

    If non-payment per the contract term happened on several occasions (let's hope not!), then your argument is strengthened - but arguing on the basis of a one-off is just too difficult.

    Word also quickly gets around and you would run the risk of being turned down for work by everyone because of the risk of you being a potential trouble-maker.
  13. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

    Yeah, thought that was the case. Was out of hope than expectation. Pity really.

    My impression of agencies from my brief experience is that they are tardy and self-serving.

    I wonder whether they treat the school's the same as the teachers.
  14. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Nothing is stopping you from contacting other schools for work - ones you haven't been to through agencies.
  15. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

    I could contact other schools and have done so without any response.

    Where I am now is a particularly good one and worth staying at, despite the agency.

    I was contacted today by a head honcho who apologised, and said it was down to human error. They assured me that payment would be made within a couple of hours, but leave it to 5pm to be sure.

    Despite this promise, it still has not entered my account.
  16. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    Hello Bytor,

    I hope your issue has been resolved. I work as a manager of a supply teaching agency and can give some advice if it helps.
    Late payments should not occur but it is always best to call agencies on a Friday to ensure all paperwork has been submitted correctly, if only to put your mind at ease if you do not trust your consultants.
    To process a payroll, even for a large agency, only take two days or so so any agency should know in advance of your pay day wether the money will arrive with you or not. And inform you of any issues. Ultimately they should be capable of a "same day" or CHAPS payment but often steer away from this as it can cost £25.00.
    In terms of the agency/school contract it is best that the school are up front with the agency and try and negotiate rather than sneak around and hope for the best. I say this not to further the gain of fellow recruiters but from experience. It is HIGHLY unlikely that the school will get away with it and standard terms of business normally state a 20% fee. This means that to save the school some money you may end up costing them a fee in excess of £6k, why would an agency want to negotiate with a client that has attempted to rip them off, whatever you think of said agency, and they will go for the maximum.
    A good consultant will see the benefit of open negotiation with a school.
    Alternatively if you are there long enough on supply (ordinarily a term) then there should be no fee.
    As for your wage. Very few agencies pay teachers in line with MPS, and nor do they have to. I'm proud to say that my branch does, however after 12 weeks of being at a school it is ILLEGAL not to pay you to scale, so feel free to strike fear in to the heart of your consultant by mentioning A.W.R. (agency workers regulation).
    Hope this helps
  17. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

    Hello educ80

    Thanks for you input from an agency manager perspective.

    The payment eventually arrived in the middle of last week.

    My consultant did say that the initial rate of pay was for daily supply and it would increase if taken on for a longer term.

    Unfortunately he has been off, and no-one was dealing with his workload. They just told me to email him as he has his mobile with him.

    He eventually spoke to the school re this and says he was knocked back. Told me about supply and demand hitting pay. Now says they'll see if the agency can take a hit on their fee to up my daily rate.

    Not sure if I'll be here long enough for AWR, and then it'll only kick in for a few weeks.

  18. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    Hi Bytor
    I'm not really sure how the school would knock him back,and if the school want you then your are the supply to their demand, thus you have the power in this balance.
    Unfortunately you are susceptible to the whims of your consultant at times, but try and stand firm. Trust me, it will be more of a nightmare for him to replace you then it will be to lose a few QUID per day on your wage.
    Having said all of this I would find an agency that is prepared to pay you to scale from the start or, as many say on these forums, try going direct.
    I'm happy to talk further about this if you want to message me as I know it's a huge bone of contention with many entering into supply.

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