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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by thelaughingdonkey, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. thelaughingdonkey

    thelaughingdonkey New commenter

    Can one be sued for "breach of contract" (resigning out of dates) if one was never issued with a contract ?
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    You need to get union advice on this.

    Sometimes, I believe it's considered that simply by working, one is in agreement with any contract, even if there is no written evidence.

    However if you're talking about resignation dates which you've never been informed of it may be less clear? Is there some general school documentation, which has such information?
    wanet likes this.
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    What Lara says.

    In principle your contract of employment exists from when they made you a job offer and you accepted it, irrespective of whether they ever gave you a separate "contract of employment" document . And also as Lara says even if there were nothing in writing a contract is almost certainly created merely by you turning up to do the work and them paying you for it. So yes you can breach it if you resign without the required notice. Whether they would actually sue you is a different question.

    As @GLsghost has posted here before the question of whether you were advised of your notice periods is critical in a situation like yours so you need to consult your union. If the school never confirmed the contractual notice period the statutory minimum notice period would probably apply, which can be very short. eg a week!
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Teachers rarely obtain a written contract.

    It is custom and practice to accept a job offer, turn up and get paid.

    If you have worked for a school and accepted a salary from it whilst abiding by the general standards applicable to the profession then that's your contract right there.
  5. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Your contract does not have to be written. You almost certainly do have a contract - one which was made verbally. You were offered the job and you accepted it. Under law there are two basic terms that constitute a binding agreement. The verbal agreement will be binding if there was an agreement on the services to be performed and an agreement was reached on remuneration for this service. This agreement can be reached by a verbal exchange in person, via telephone or via an email.

    There are certain contracts and agreements that must be made in writing and these will include the sale of property, tenancy agreements, copyright transfer, and contracts for consumer credit. Contracts of employment do not have to be made in writing.

    Many people are not aware that verbal agreements are in many cases as legally binding as written contracts. Verbal contracts can be upheld by a court if someone decides to breach the agreement, although without written terms and conditions it may be difficult to prove. However, your written terms and conditions will be found in the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) with the 2017 Document currently in force, and also almost certainly The Conditions of Service for School Teachers (known as the Burgundy Book.)

    Can you be sued?

  6. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Even if you do leave in less than the agreed notice period, you can only be sued for costs incurred in replacing you over and above your salary.
    So, if a supply is taken on earning less than you were, the school cannot sue you as they have not suffered financial loss. I'm pretty sure they cannot sue for the cost of an advert/interviews as they would have to do this anyway.
    TBH I've never heard of a school taking a teacher to court for this, but there's always a first.
  7. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    This is an interesting point.

    I'd love to hear if anybody has ever been involved (not hearsay and rumors, actually involved - on either side) in a case where a school has successfully sued a teacher who has resigned without providing the stipulated notice period.
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I don't know of any definite cases of teachers being sued although a couple of posters here have said they were threatened with it. But whether anyone ever gets sued is a bit of a red herring. The real risk to someone leaving without giving contractual notice is that they will get a reference that says, in effect, "walked off the job without giving notice". It's the impact that's likely to have on future employment that people thinking of leaving without giving proper notice need to think about, rather then the unlikely prospect of being sued.
  9. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I doubt they would do it. But, from the sound of it, they could do it.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  10. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    This is the important crux of the matter. You don't want to antagonise anyone from whom you'll be needing a good reference. ;)
    wanet likes this.
  11. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    A contract is a contract and it is incumbent on both parties to fulfil the terms as far as they are able.

    For some strange reason teachers (in particular) seem to think that they can break the terms of a contract with impunity if they wish and will think up all sorts of excuses for their behaviour.

    They would be the first to start bleating if it was the school which broke the terms of the contract.

    I could cite three instances of this happening; one private school and two maintained schools. In one of these the teacher was made liable for the excess costs of hiring a supply (i.e., the costs over and above the teacher's salary) together with half the costs of advertising and recruiting a permanent replacement.
  12. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    I've come across this once. Not quite the same circumstances but teacher was offered new job after the resignation date. Current HT simply contacted new HT and said teacher was contracted to current school until x date. New HT postponed the start date, as teacher was contractually incapable of taking on the new job. Reasonably amicable but very firm.
  13. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Did the school actually get paid, I wonder? A lot of teachers, especially if young, would have no ability to pay such a debt (except, perhaps, at a nominal amount such as £1 a week...), esp. if they have dependants.
  14. cheesypop

    cheesypop Occasional commenter

    Whatever we may think about the notice periods, they are pretty well known.
    Teachers can leave at the end of a term. No other time without agreement. They need to give a minimum of half a terms notice.
    There may well be circumstances where a school may be able to easily replace a member of staff, and therefore be prepared to let them go, or be glad to be rid of a teacher and end their contract early, but this can’t be assumed.
    Similarly, the school can’t just get rid of you’ve because they want to or because they have a better offer.
    Contracts work both ways.
    Whatever we think about the notice periods (and I am someone who got a new job at the start of July and had to wait till January to start!) they do give as much continuity and stability as possible to the kids.
    A reference which says ‘didn’t give required notice’ would not be looked on positively. No head wants to think you would do that to them.
    If you want that flexibility- do supply.
  15. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Yes @nomad I agree.

    Some teachers are very keen to invoke the "But I never signed anything! A-ha!" clause when it suits them. I doubt they'd be quite so keen if the school were to make use of the same clause (which doesn't exist btw and is a complete fabrication/wishful thinking) and were to change but a single word and say, "But you never signed anything! A-ha!"

    I just can't see the teacher going quietly with a melancholy, "Fair enough."


    An employment contract can be verbal, written or both to be valid. The agreement can be either explicit or implied. With an implied contract there may be no formal agreement in writing that an employee signs, but an employer’s promises can be binding all the same. Anything discussed between the two parties can be construed as a spoken employment agreement. An explicit employment contract details the employee’s job duties, compensation and number of work hours in writing. Implicit contracts imply expectations on the part of both employers and employees. In most cases, employees operate under an implied and explicit employment contract.

    Implied Agreement
    Often, employment agreements are implied from verbal statements or through information stated in employee handbooks and company policies. Implied employment contracts come about when an employer discusses details relating to job duties, compensation, benefits and termination of employment with an interviewee or current employee. Likewise, much of the information published in the company’s employee handbook is generally the same as the terms the employer would specify in a written employment contract. To avoid creating an implied agreement, an employer must be careful not to make specific promises during an interview or in a job offer letter. The same goes for any information published in the employee handbook. Employers must always make it clear verbally and in writing that the employer/employee relationship is at will, which means that either the employer or employee can terminate employment at any time.
    Piranha, cheesypop and nomad like this.
  16. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Yes. If you work the job for a certain period you are deemed to have accepted the contract. Equally, you get the rights and protections of a contract - eg. the school can't just tell you not to turn up on Monday and stop paying you. That's worth remembering when you're trying to say that a contract never existed
    Lara mfl 05 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  17. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I've been able to leave outside of my notice period (or is that inside?). It's down to negotiation and, let's be honest, it's in no-one's best interest to keep hold of a member of staff who doesn't want to be there.
    What about getting out of education? If I were to apply now for a job outside of schools I cannot leave until February half term. Is that fair? It could prevent me from accepting a job offer.
  18. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    The thing is, often recruiting schools are desperate for new starters to commence as soon as possible. A candidate who is 'prepared' to start sooner, rather than later, might be an attractive proposition.

    So, if a recruiting school receive a reference which is satisfactory, other than a reference made to statutory notice periods not being adhered to by the applicant, they are unlikely to be perturbed when they know this has occurred in order that the applicant can start sooner with them...

    Plus, most reference requests come on a pre-formatted pro-forma which is unlikely to address such matters.

    I suppose an aggrieved referee could always add some '(any) other comments' though...

    I would think it would generally be good advice not to resign until all references had already been collected anyway...
    wanet, Lara mfl 05 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  19. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    You are lucky - anybody under STPCD cannot leave until 30th April! Fairness works both ways - the school would also have to give you notice to the same date, unless there was gross misconduct. I once had a contract (outside teaching) with a 12 month notice period - it came in very handy when I left due to a takeover! Yes, it is difficult if you decide to leave at this time of year, which is the worst outcome. But that is something you agree to when you accept a contract as a teacher.
    Lara mfl 05 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  20. thelaughingdonkey

    thelaughingdonkey New commenter

    Wooah! I'm no spring chicken, young NQT......... have been a teacher for a long time. It is actually because traditionally one was given a written contract that I asked the question. For all the posters who are implying that I just think I can resign and leave. I am aware of resignation dates. I just thought in these "new times" we are in - no contract = room for manoeuvre (possibly). But ..... also think it is strange not to be given a contract.

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