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Fixed term contracts

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by charlelana, Feb 14, 2016.

  1. charlelana

    charlelana New commenter

    Hi All,

    I started teaching 8 years ago in the north of England, but took a break due to maternity of a few years. Last year I came back to teaching for a local LA school, for a full time/full year i.e starting and ending on the 1st of Sept job. I then moved to another local school straight after, within the same LA.
    I was told at the Job interview that they would put me on a 1 year contract again, but that they always then just appoint the teacher to a full contract.
    However, they advertised my post in December and told me I need to reapply(which I did), in the end they have employed somebody else to take over from me in Sept 2016.
    I've never had any complaints against me, my teaching has always been excellent and I've had lots of supportive messages from the parents of the students and the other teachers. The cynic in me is not surprised that the person replacing me (again on a fixed term contract) is cheaper.

    I've got a few questions if anybody is able to help me.
    Firstly since I would have had 2 years of fixed term contracts with the same LA, does this mean that I count this as 2 years continuous employment? ( I believe I have the same staff number over the 2 years).
    Are the school allowed to do this? the reading I've done on the subject seems unclear.
    Would the 2 years mean that my current school, must have a reason to make me redundant, they can't just get rid of me.

    I am very confused and have just kept my head down quietly not wanting to cause a fuss, but at the end of the day I need to consider myself and my kids.

    All help appreciated as this kind of situation is very new to me and I've been out of teaching for a little while.


    Charlotte xxx
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Oh dear, very sad for you. But you have no possibility of going to an unemployment tribunal and claiming unfair dismissal. Your contract was for one year. They are employing you for one year.

    After 4 years continuous employment on short term contracts, you become a permanent member of staff. 4 years, not two.


    Disappointing, I know.

    Start jobhunting now - come over to Jobseekers Forum and ask for help.

    Best wishes

  3. charlelana

    charlelana New commenter

    Thanks for the reply, this is partly where my confusion lies....

    If a contract isn’t renewed
    This is considered to be a dismissal, and if the employee has 2 years’ service the employer needs to show that there’s a ‘fair’ reason for not renewing the contract (eg, if they were planning to stop doing the work the contract was for)."

    The above is what confuses me, as it seems to suggest that the employer has to provide evidence for not renewing the contract. The work is fully continuing but after 2 years there doesn't seem to be a "fair" reason for not renewing..

    BTW I will definitely be job hunting :)

  4. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    If it did count as 2 years continous service, then the part you quote would apply. The employer woud need to have a good reason for not renewing. However, I don't know if employment at two different schools in the same LA counts as this. If you are serious about this, you may want to get advice from your union. My own advice would be to concentrate on job hunting. I may be wrong, but I suspect that taking it further might harm your future job prospects if it gets out.
  5. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    But I believe that the point is that you don't have 2 years service, nor will you until after you finish . . . One day more and you would.

    But perhaps @GLsghost has a different view here.

    Best wishes

  6. phatsals

    phatsals Senior commenter

    Sorry Theo but it is 'two years and over' not 'over two years' If the OP has been employed in the same school and had their contract renewed at least once then they have met the criteria. The two years would not have to be completed if the contract has an end date on it. The difficulty would be in proving the dismissal is 'unfair'. ie if the school has followed it's own policy it may be fair. It would be very easy to slightly change a job description and say you didn't meet the criteria therefore they advertised, you applied but there was a better candidate.

    Having said that there would be little to gain, potentially a small redundany payment but not reinstatement.
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Fair enough! But my interpretation was that if it was a contract with a fixed end, then finishing it at that point is surely fair dismissal? So even if they are eligible to go to Tribunal over this, would they win?

    But they haven't . . .

    But to be honest, as you say, there is little to gain here.

    Best wishes

  8. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Sorry - late to this:

    You might find reference to section 210 - 212 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 helpful here.

    s 210 (2) (b) says quite clearly that "a year means a year of twelve calendar months".

    If the OP's contract started on 1st September and ended on 31st August and it was with the same LA and there was no break in service, she should have two years' qualifying employment by the time her contract comes to an end.

    This means she has the right to request the written reasons for dismissal (but has to request it - it doesn't happen automatically) and can only have been dismissed for one of the five potentially fair reasons (ok...the automatically fair reasons are not relevant here):

    statutory reasons (say your immigration status had changed)
    some other substantial reason
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide


    Have there been any legal cases @GLsghost about whether employment at different schools in the same LA counts as continuous employment for employment law purposes? (Piranha raised the same point in post #4).

    In this case OP was 12 months at one school and 12 months at another. I'll assume that in both cases the schools were LA Community schools (not VA or Foundation) and both appointments were made by the school's governing body.

    The LA would have been the contractual employer under two separate contracts of employment, one to do a job for 12 months at school A, and a separate contract to do a different job at school B. Although the LA is the contractual employer it has no hiring and firing powers in Community schools. These are statutorily given to the governing body by the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009, section 16 for appointments, section 20 for dismissals. The LA has no rights to decide whether someone should be appointed or dismissed, it is required by law to do whatever the governing body instructs (save in limited circumstances where the person is legally barred from working as a teacher because of immigration status or lack of QTS).

    As far as the governing body of school B is concerned it has only employed for 12 months and doesn't have to give one of the potentially fair reasons for dismissal.

    This statutory delegation of the LA's hiring and firing powers is probably unique and I wondered if a Tribunal had ever considered its implications for continuous employment?
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  10. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Don't know - but I can look it up any specific cases for you.

    The situation is unique, but my understanding is that it does count as continuous employment. It is set out in s 218 (7) (b) ERA 1996, where specific reference is made to this situation:


    (7)If an employee of the [F8governing body] of a school maintained by a [F9local authority] is taken into the employment of the authority or an employee of a [F9local authority] is taken into the employment of the [F10governing body] of a school maintained by the authority—

    (a)his period of employment at the time of the change of employer counts as a period of employment with the second employer, and

    (b)the change does not break the continuity of the period of employment.
    Rott Weiler likes this.
  11. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I can't find much case law @Rott Weiler .

    However, the decision of the EAT in Kingston upon Hull City Council v Mountain from 1998 is worth a read. Kingston upon Hull City Council v Mountain - EAT/756/98, (Transcript) It considers the question of entitlement to a redundancy payment where a fixed-term contract is not renewed. Judge Altman gives some clarification on the question of how continuous employment within a LA may be indicated, reminding that the continued payment of pension contributions by the same employer is sufficient.

    "Those sections of the Employment Rights Act which deal with the way in which to measure the continuity of employment are clear in their relying on factual gaps. Indeed, there is continuity, for example, under s.212, simply if a person continues to be a member of the same works pension scheme, as authority has demonstrated."
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  12. charlelana

    charlelana New commenter

    Thank you all for your thoughts.
    I have spoken to ACAS who seemed pretty adamant that it would be continuous employment (partly for the reasons of the pension as GLsghost says.) and that it would be 2 years employment, triggering the various clauses.
    The 5 specific reasons are very worth knowing and I will request a specific reason before saying anything else.
    I've had edapt giving me some advice as well, the general opinion seems to be, if I nicely point out that they've made a mistake and not followed the law, then normally its just a simple apology and they put it right.
  13. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    There is more guidance here about dismissal - particularly about requesting written reasons for the dismissal and the employer's duty to comply.
  14. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I once had a fixed contract outside teaching for a term of 1 year and 364 days, to make sure that I didn't get any rights. Rather strangely, when my job was discontinued, they gave me a CA, despite the fact that they were within their rights not to offer me a new contract, especially as they has already announced that no fixed term contracts were going to be renewed. I had already decided to leave the banking business and try to train as a teacher, so this suited me entirely.
  15. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Glad to hear that something came out positive for you, @Piranha ! I'm hoping that a CA in the banking business was nice and generous.


    Best wishes


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