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Colleague resigns During Summer

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by jago123, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Hi all,

    Hope you are all enjoying your summer break- the last couple of weeks have gone quick and it won’t be long until we welcome the students back for the start of the new academic year.

    I have just returned from my holiday abroad where I received an email from one of my HoDs informing me that they are resigning from their role with immediate effect and won’t be returning in September.
    I have contacted the colleague, who may I add , has worked at the school for 11 years and they’ve informed me that they have decided to leave the education sector due to increased stress and has already started a new job working for the NHS.
    They’ve clearly breached their contract of employment here on two occasions where:
    - They are failing to provide sufficient notice to terminate their employment.
    - They have commenced / undertook employment without permission from myself (HT) or the CoG.

    I’m looking at taking this further, just wondered if anyone had previous experience dealing with a situation like this?

    The department members of where the colleague was from, were not aware that the HoD had planned to leave.
    Startedin82 likes this.
  2. install

    install Star commenter

    Wow. I am not an ht- but have worked with hts. Do Inform HR. Can they advise further and on the legalities? Your Union.should be able to help/advise too. They are way off the last resignation deadline of 31st May and next one of 31st Oct - and the request is with 'immediate effect". They are not making a case against you or the school - but are blaming 'stress' and the 'education sector' - and interestingly have got another job already.

    Top of my head (but I am not legally minded, so do.check. ):

    1 Accept the notice and terminate the contract
    2 Insist they return to work.and serve their notice
    3 Seek an injunction from the Courts for breach of contract

    I am sure there will be other options and legally minded Tessers who can help/advise. better.

    Hope you find the best resolution for all involved.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
    Startedin82 and JohnJCazorla like this.
  3. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    Maybe it depends on what you hope to achieve.

    You could, perhaps, attempt to oblige the teacher to come back and work until Christmas, but that would possibly mean such a poor working relationship and a HoD who had no interest in being there and who would in all likelihood be extremely resentful at having had to give up the opportunity to escape from what has indeed become a very stressful profession.

    Whatever the legalities of it, whatever actions you can officially take, I don't think you'd gain much more than some kind of 'satisfaction' that s/he hadn't got away with it. I don't see that there's anything to be gained for the students.
  4. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    Rotten situation. Teach them a lesson but work for what's best for the students. Get everyone involved asap. Good luck.
  5. StarbucksCovfefe

    StarbucksCovfefe Occasional commenter

    And you really didn't see this coming?

    "Teach them a lesson..." They've been there 11 years....surely something major must have happened for them to behave in this way.

    I'm not a HT, but I have a business with staff, and although it stings, I'd let it go. But I know many won't agree. Which oddly saddens me.
  6. Startedin82

    Startedin82 Established commenter

    Clear breach of contract. Ring HR as a matter of urgency.

    How on earth have they got a job in the NHS without reference to you?
    install likes this.
  7. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    It could be that the new employer is a party to the breach of contract.
    install likes this.
  8. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    Slight difference but I got back from holiday to an email from someone I'd appointed saying they could no longer take up the position. First thing I did was speak to HR. Yes it's a breach of contract but to be honest I'd rather spend my time and energy on sorting out who's going to teach that class and getting it covered than going to employment tribunal. If I were you I'd take the attitude that in the long run it's best that someone who would breach a contract like that has left and sort out replacing them.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I agree you need to consider what you want to achieve, and I'll guess it isn't to have them back in school until Christmas.

    The traditional remedy in cases like this is to require them to reimburse you for extra expenses incurred by their breach of contract. e.g. bringing in supply because you haven't had time to recruit permanent replacement. It may not amount to much money but even if it is a nominal amount you may want to do it to make the point that people can't walk off the job without consequences. You could easily sue in the small claims court without involving lawyers, although it would take up some of your time. See what HR say.

    Technically their "resignation" isn't valid and legally they still an employee who is expected to turn up for work on the first day of term. When they don't you are therefore fully entitled to treat it as a disciplinary offence of being absent without permission and start formal disciplinary process for Gross Misconduct. Your governors would then likely dismiss for gross misconduct. Even if that had no immediate impact on this case it would lay down a marker that what the HOD has done is not acceptable.

    I'm mystified how someone whose full time employment for the last 11 years has been at your school can get a job in the NHS without apparently asking the school for a reference. Are you certain no-one else on the staff provided a reference - could anyone else on SLT have given it? Or, if you an LA school, asked the LA for one (unlikely, the LA would surely have refused and referred them to you).
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
  10. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Do nothing without advice from HR.

    Not only have they broken contract but, from what you have posted, they are undertaking full time employment while currently under contract (and being paid) by the school/local authority.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
  11. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    Education is a mess. Teachers and managers the length and breadth of the country are stressed and unhappy and it's only getting worse.
    A member of your staff manages to escape. It causes the school a (temporary) headache but who could honestly begrudge that collegaue the chance of a better quality of life? The stupid system of notice periods means at times that more than 6 months notice is required which is absurd and not common at all in other areas of work but that's not the teacher's fault. If the notice period were one month, or two months, that's the time frame the school would be looking at to find a replacement.

    Give him/her a break. Wish them well. Getting revenge isn't going to help your students one little bit.

    There maybe one positive to taking legal action. If I had left under those circumstances I would feel very guilty. If the school took action against me, all that guilt and any doubt about whether I'ddone the right thing would disappear in an instant.
  12. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    I wouldn't bother attempting to do anything about it.

    Do you really have the time, inclination and spare funding to pursue some form of legal action?

    Get an advert up, appoint an acting HoD and reflect on why such a situation may have occurred in the first place...
  13. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Thanks for all your responses, I am ‘officially back’ in school today where I have informed HR about this situation. They are going to investigate this further. They will not be paid from the date of their resignation- the day they sent the email- 5th August. HR are also looking at potentially an NCTL hearing.

    The role they have secured within the NHS does not have direct communication with patients and is a ‘behind the scenes’ position.

    The 2nd in Dept has agreed to step up to the HoD role and has expressed an interest in the role permanently. I’ve informed them that the role will be temporary until January and that they are invited to apply for the role on a permanent basis.

    I’ve also advertised for a temporary teacher to cover the classes until a permanent solution is in place. Hopefully, I’ll be able to recruit a teacher who does not currently have a job and is able to start straight away otherwise, I’ll have to have a cover supervisor in place for the first term.
    Bumptious, Flanks, ajs12345 and 4 others like this.
  14. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Even so it's surprising they have apparently got the job without any references for their last 11 years of employment.
    strawbs and Startedin82 like this.
  15. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    Very little loyalty in employment, particularly towards a previous boss. If job is not sensitive, they could have listed employment accurately but ask that they not seem a reference because of poor treatment/relationship etc regardless of how true it is. As long as DBS checks out they won't think twice.
  16. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Would it be kinder to have asked them to step up temporarily for a year (give them time to get their teeth in to it) and that, if they are excellent the role will become permanent.
    Asking them to do the role for a term, and then they can 'apply' for the permanent post, lets them know you don't think much of them before they even start.

    This way of treating staff, might give us a clue as to why someone would give up a HOD role in a school where they've been for 11 years, for a nothingish behind the scenes role in the NHS?
  17. WJClarkson

    WJClarkson Occasional commenter

    This post makes me a little suspicious.

    1. You've said before that you're an LA school. Therefore, your staff will be employed under STPCD, and I don't know of any exclusivity clauses under STPCD contracts. For this reason, I can't see how them taking up alternative employment alone without your permission would constitute breach of contract.

    2. I can't see how a teacher resigning/breaching their contract would be worthy of an NCTL referral. I thought they dealt with more serious issues.
    sparkleghirl and Pomza like this.
  18. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I can't see how NCTL (TRA now) barring would be relevant, but a school level disciplinary is possible if OP wanted to go there (for being absent without permission next term).

    You don't need an express exclusivity clause to prevent someone working for another employer although 'enforcement' is easier if you have one. There was a thread about this earlier in the year and various links to legal websites explained it was to do with implied conditions of a contract of employment, as I recall. The unique nature of teacher's contracts are such that if I were OP I wouldn't pursue that line. Too uncertain how a court would determine it.
    Startedin82 likes this.
  19. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    This is a drastic action. Have you asked yourself why your employee has done this? As an employer you have a duty of care.
    sparkleghirl and henrypm0 like this.
  20. Startedin82

    Startedin82 Established commenter

    I do think that some posters on here are missing the point. This is a breach of contract. Assuming the person does not attend for work on the first day back then they are absent without leave. My GB recently dismissed a Midday Supervisor for this very reason.

    With regard to teachers in non academy schools they are bound by the Burgundy Book. Many academies also adopt these conditions. Teachers have 3 resignation points during the year - 28th February to leave at the end of the Spring term, 31st May to leave at the end of the summer term and 31st October to leave at Christmas (as a HT the dates for me are 30th January, 30th April and 30th September). Termination of contract at dates other than this can only be by agreement of the GB. Now this may be right or wrong but that is the current situation ( I think in Scotland these dates don't apply?).

    Yes, Heads have a duty of care and should be supporting all teachers through their working lives at the school (why assume this hasn't been the case here?). Most HTs I know do this.

    As I said before the biggest mystery here is how the person has managed to secure a job without reference to the previous employer - especially in a public sector organisation like the NHS.
    Rott Weiler and JohnJCazorla like this.

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