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Dear Theo, maternity contract dilemma

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by NNS, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. NNS

    NNS New commenter

    I am no longer a jobseeker, however, a few weeks back you were very helpful to provide me with important advice and since I now have details of my employment, I asking for help again.
    I have been offered a part time one year contract by the school- on the phone I was told it would last one year, and the letter sent home alseo precised one year FT contract starting from July (it did not precise the ending date though, just mentioned a one year contract).
    I have now received the contract to sign and it precises the contract ending end of July 2012 OR the return of the teacher that went on a maternity leave, whichever is the sooner. The teacher is giving birth in November/December, and I am afraid that she will want to get back to work well before end of July- and I had not known about my post being a maternity cover at all until I came to school in July. I do not want not being able to finish my induction and being jobless until September (my field is a difficult one). Is there anythign I can do?

  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Not quite sure what you mean by 'precised', promised?
    Theo will be able to give much better advice, but I'm sure he'd advise you to check they will actually start your induction.
    I don't think there's any job security that you'll be able to finish the summer term unfortunately - the teacher may well want to return so they get paid over the summer.
    Remember you can start applying for jobs whilst in post, next March onwards & at least this post will provide recent experience and a reference.
    I'd definitely go and have a word about how they view you being able to complete induction.
    However no doubt Theo will be along shortly with more expert advice.
  3. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Ah, this is not an unusual situation, I'm afraid.
    You are on a maternity contract; the school, has, by law, to make provsion for the teacher returning to her previous job. So the clause that you quote above is pretty standard. It has to allow for the possibility of the teacher returning sooner - suppose, for example the worst happens, and she loses the baby. She would wish to return to work to take her mind off things and get back to "normal" asap.
    However that is the worst-case scenario, and very unlikely to happen. What is more likely is that she will return on the last day of term in July, to qualify for getting paid her salary throughout the summer.
    That wouldn't be too bad - you would lose a few weeks only.
    But equally likely is that she would decide not to return at all, but to stay at home with the baby.
    The decision will have to be yours, but if I were in your shoes I would continue with this job. Any job is hard to get, a job in a less-usual field is even harder. Ask about starting induction, and work as hard as possible to get the best possible start to your teaching career, would be my advice.
    It is always easier, (to be honest to you and blunt to other posters who may be unemployed) to get another job from the position of strength of actually being employed now and doing well at it. So if you do find that you are not getting induction, I would say that you should nonetheless continue with the post, do your very best there, and look around.
    To get back to your original point, my point is that this clause is pretty standard, don't worry, there's nothing you can do to change it, and the only thing that you can do to make it all work out is to cross your fingers!
    Have a great first year in teaching. Best wishes
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    I am timetabled for the October seminars - see you there!
  4. NNS

    NNS New commenter

    I did ask over the phone whether I will be able to complete my induction when the offer was made, and have been toldthat yes, that the contract was until end of July- also the letter mentions nothing about my contract being possibly terminated before the end of the year, and I would not have accepted it had I known that it can be terminated at any time. I was not even told that I was replacing another teacher- this was told to me on the first day, so I was wondering whether the school can offer a vague contract for one year in the letter and then offer what basically is a maternity cover.

    Looking for jobs is difficult since I am renting a flat (moved here for the purpose of the job) for a year, and moving within such a short period of time is not convenient and, well, very expensive.

    Also, we started working in July and I have only now receive the contract, and I was really disappointed to see the details so late.
  5. NNS

    NNS New commenter

    Thank you Theo- just a short question about what you said- I remember back in July you mentioned something about contacting my union. What bothers me is that the school never mentioned it being maternity cover before I started the job, so I thought I was accepting a one year contract, not a maternity cover. I am getting the induction, but I do want to complete it within one school, and I found it a bit unfair that I was not notified I was employed as a maternity cover.
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    I honestly feel that if it is a mat contract, there is nothing that you can do about it, I'm afraid.
    You could try contacting the union, and showing them the original offer letter and asking their advice. Don't hold out too much hope, though. The school could anyway just change it to a firm one-year contract, and then give you half a term's notice (or less, depending on what it says in the contract), and getting rid of you completely.
    Glad to hear about induction - that's really good news.
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    I am timetabled for the October seminars - see you there!
  7. NNS

    NNS New commenter

    Thank you for the help.

    But I must say I am extremely disappointed that the school can offer one thing and then provide something totally different, as I would really not accept this job if I knew it was a maternity cover, I had three job interviews coming and I thought I accepted a one year contract.

    I will ask my union for advice anyway, you never know.

    Would you say that a maternity cover is better than a firm one-year contract? It seems to me that with the latter would at least give me an idea of where I am in terms of finishing. Maternity cover seems like they can tell me they want me to leave with a few days notice! So half a term would give me more time to prepare for a change.
  8. Yes, maternity cover can in theory tell you they want you to leave with a few days notice because the returning teacher can return earlier if she wants to.
    If it is any consolation something similar happened to me years ago. I was commuting a long way to my school so applied for a sideways move to a more local school, and upon attending interview with six others, was told there were two posts available. I was offered one and another woman another - only in mid September did it transpire mine was a maternity contract. I didn't get paid in full for July and not at all for August, as well as having left a permanent contract for a temporary one.
    Still, I was appointed to a promotion after that so it led to big and better things in a way but I still feel annoyed at the school. I would advise looking for a job with a January start whilst also working at this one.
  9. NNS

    NNS New commenter

    I think you actually did give me an advice I was looking for. To be fair, I think I would rather have a fixed contract what at least I know will not provide me with any sort of surprises (the lady coming back earlier), and it seems regardless what type of contract it is I would get 4 weeks notice at best. Actually, my contract does not precise anything about the school giving me notice, so I need to ask about that too. But I will talk to people at school about it to clear things out.

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