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Head refuses to accept resignation

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by bellingerc, Apr 6, 2019.

  1. bellingerc

    bellingerc New commenter

    hi there, can I please ask for some shared experiences? I have been a teacher for many years and have seen the profession change immeasurably. I regret encouraging my daughter to enter the profession especially because of the toll it is currently having on her mental and physical health.

    My daughter has been working at a stand alone primary academy since September. At the beginning of March she was offered her dream job outside teaching and asked the headteacher if she could be released from her contract at the end of the Easter term.

    She acknowledges she missed the deadline by a few days but was pleading for the head’s discretion. The head said she would consider her request.a week later she emailed to say she was still considering the request.

    A further week later, (two weeks after my daughter writing to the head) the head said (via e mail) she HAD considered it and was refusing to let her go until the end of August. My daughter requested a copy of her contract, knowing that there is NO signed contract and therefore nothing in writing about the academy’s resignation policy, probation time etc etc. No copy of contractual terms was offered despite repeated requests.

    Can you be held to a contracted agreement having not signed a contract?

    The deputy head then summoned my daughter to an “informal” meeting which ended up with my daughter having a panic attack - followed by a flare up of IBS- followed by being signed off sick by her GP for anxiety and stress, resulting in physical symtoms making classroom teaching impossible. She has not been able to return to the classroom - and tbh - as a parent I am very concerned about her mental health.

    A national supply agency then advertised the position to commence at the start of the Summer term. We assumed that this meant that agreement had been given - but the head categorically denied that the advert had been placed. When challenged, the supply agency said the school had informed them the position had been filled.

    The head of governors is, quite rightly, supporting the head, but the union have offered full support to my daughter. On union advise, my daughter tried to set up a meeting with the head teacher and her union representative - but the head said that no such meeting was possible before the commencement of the summer term.

    My daughter - on union advice - again handed in her resignation; citing ill health as the reason for terminating her contract. She will have given a total of 9 weeks notice - but has said she would like to be taken off the payroll with immediate effect as she would not be able to return to work. No response was received.

    The head teacher again kept her waiting for a reply and finally responded at six o’clock on the last day of term - thus making any reply impossible.

    She is aware she is technically in bereach of contract (although she has no contract!) but feels there is no way she can ever return to the classroom at this school ( and possible ANY school) Her new job (NOT school based) starts after Easter - but can she take it up if the head has not agreed to her resignation?

    She has copies of every letter and e mail she has sent and received and a log of all phone calls. If the school is going to go down the “breach of contract” route ( which we know they are entitled to) - what happens next? Can you still work elsewhere?

    We find it difficult to comprehend how a head of a school academy would sooner pay extended sick leave payments (it will be for six months!) PLUS supply cover costs rather then just accept termination of a contract..... sorry for the long post but I simply don’t know where to turn to next. Any advice would be much appreciated. Many thanks.
  2. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    Sorry but Head can refuse to accept resignation, unfortunately. However it's only a nasty one that would! And you've got one particularly nasty one there! If she's lost the chance of that job, I'm suggesting she withdraw resignation on the basis it was for a particular date and therefore not applicable now, get 5 months plus sick pay, pop in for a day and repeat!
    Sorry I can't help. Enraged on her behalf!
  3. Wilmthrop

    Wilmthrop New commenter

    I would recommend that your daughter attend her first day of employment as planned. Theoretically, she will be in breech of contract meaning that the school could take legal action against her, however they would do so from extremely shaky foundations:
    • Firstly, they would be unable to produce a contract of employment meaning that they would be unable to prove she was ever employed at the school.
    • Moreover, it is a good thing that your daughter has saved her correspondence with the school. It proves that they have behaved in an unreasonable manner - something which would strengthen her defence in court.
    At any rate, I think it highly unlikely that her school would pursue her in court. At the end of the day it would be an expensive and futile endeavour. The remuneration which they could gain would completely outweigh the costs involved at a time when school budgets are already strained.
  4. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

  5. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    I have known cases of head teachers accepting resignations after the official deadline, for health and family reasons etc. Sadly this head has decided to go down the most obstructive route, clearly not a person to work for and I hope other staff at the school will take note and leave ASAP.
    With no contract signed I think your daughter can and should leave and take this other job, if still an option. She will not get a reference from her school, A head like this would almost certainly use references as a way of getting their own back in what ever petty way they can so she should not worry about references.
    I have known people to leave ahead of time and I suspect that while the head might threaten action, it is unlikely that they would do so. Again this sort of behaviour does not make for a happy school.
    You need union advice ASAP.
    Your daughter could go down the long term sick route but I think it would be better to start in a new job straight away and build a new career, great that she can count on family support, this will make a big difference.
    Don't allow the HT to have direct contact with her, if possible, this should now be through the union or yourself, do keep your cool if you have any direct dealings with this person, like any parent I now how angry one can become in defence of ones child, but this sort of person would then claim to be the victim.
    Ultimately the best way to deal with this situation is to get away from them.
    Finally, if in the future you have a chance to warn teachers in the area not to work for this person then do so.
    The only way we will ever win against bullying HT's is to starve their schools of staff.
  6. install

    install Star commenter

    Has the new job all gone through eg have all necessary references been received? I can see that the Head might be concerned about agency costs to pay for a replacement Supply teacher - but you do say that your daughter has resigned due to extreme mental ill health. Perhaps the Union could look at the wording again.

    This sounds awfully stressful. Maybe your daughter should see the Doctor - and ask.them to write it on her notes that.school work is detrimental to her well being and that it is stressful. Mental health is a tough cookie for employers and if the Academy is exacerbating it that will not be good for the Academy. Either way she should continue to see her Union and refuse any more meetings with the Head without a Union rep.

    Also if your daughter is not well she should not go into work anyway :cool:
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    So what does the head suppose is going to happen?
    Do they really expect your daughter to dutifully resign the new job and then work a whole term in the school, dotting all the is and crossing all the ts and then smilingly leave at the end of July?
    The job advert suggests that they are not expecting her to return after Easter.
    Are they hoping to sue her and win damages?
    The head sounds obstructive and unpleasant - this has no bearing on an legalities - the fortnight delay, the lack of a contract and the job ad that then disappears suggest that this head enjoys playing mind games and making life unpleasant for people even when it produces no benefit to her or the organisation she leads.
    If the head gets unpleasant, do not be surprised if a "signed" contract suddenly appears (complete with fake signature).
    My heart and most of my head say "start the job". I have known a few similar breaches of contract. The heads have been irritated but ultimately done nothing. However, these were a while back, and with heads who were pragmatic and decent human beings.
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    Also OP, tell your daughter to close the bank account the school pays wages into once she has received her final payment. Tell her 'Congratulations" and I hope she enjoys her new job. ..:)
  9. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    What more is there to say?

    There may well be no written contract, but there does not have to be. If there are conditions of service (for example if the Academy has adopted the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document - the STPCD) and a letter of appointment was sent and accepted, then a condition of contract exists.

    Teachers, for some reason, seem to be unable to accept that a condition of contract can exist without being written on paper, but it can. How else would the Stock Exchange operate?

    With respect, I get fed up with the number of posts one reads on here giving "dream job" as a reason for wanting to break contract.

    The STPCD (and the large majority of academies have adopted this) makes resignation dates absolutely clear. Inconvenient though they may be, they are part of teaching.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    How about "but she doesn't have a contract"?

    Assuming all the facts are true as presented, in her shoes I would simply take up the new job.
    What is the HT going to do?
    Take legal action?
    On what basis?
    There is no contract and therefore no mutually agreed notice period.
    The suggestion that she has not worked there (by another poster) is daft-clearly she has taken payments for her work.
    But she can also demonstrate reasonable notice, given that there is no contract.

    Again-what do you seriously think this HT can or will do?
  11. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    As per my post above.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    When I read your post there was only the first sentence.

    Maybe you edited the rest into it straight after?
    Clearly upon which mine makes less sense

    Still don't agree with you mind.
    Given all the communication which OP's daughter can evidence, what precisely is the HT going to pursue?
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    I suspect that this HT would claim that they are acting in the best interests of the pupils by trying to make this person stay to the end of the summer. However if a member of staff is stressed, unwell and clearly their morale is on the floor then forcing them into the classroom against their wishes will not be in the best interests of the pupils.
    Teaching is not for everyone, the HT needs to accept this and let her go, better for the HT to focus on finding a good supply teacher for next term, and they have had weeks to do this, rather than spending time and effort trying to make her stay.
  14. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I'm as surprised as @nomad that people are still giving wholly incorrect advice on here about whether a contract of employment exists. Of course the school can prove she was employed - she turned up for work every day since last September, taught classes assigned by the head, and was paid by the school!

    OP doesn't say what happened when her daughter was appointed, but likely there was also a formal offer letter and written acceptance. That's also all the evidence needed to show there was a contract of employment. If it was done there no need for any subsequent 'contract' to be signed by the daughter.

    Why has the head behaved unreasonably? Whether you are in breach of contract for leaving without giving the required notice has nothing to do with the head "behaving unreasonably".

    There might be a case for saying the notice period was never notified to OP's daughter if it wasn't in the offer letter and if it was never drawn to her attention as being in any staff handbook or similar which she could have accessed. But we know nothing about that from OP.

    Not relevant. That's about whether the employer's acceptance is needed if the employee tenders a valid resignation giving the contractually required notice period. The OP's daughter hasn't given the required notice period, not according to the school anyway. The OP's daughter has asked for the notice period to be reduced and they have refused. They are entitled to refuse.

    Does the new 'dream job' not require a reference from the school? How will they respond if/when the school says "She walked out without giving notice and we are taking legal action against her"?
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  15. bellingerc

    bellingerc New commenter

    Thank you for your advice and support. Still confused. Daughter is certain she cannot return to that school whatever happens.... none of this makes teaching any easier - or an attractive profession to enter - does it?
  16. install

    install Star commenter

    I agree. And sadly there are some nasty heads/ceos out there (but not all). Teaching has become a dead end job in many schools now. Your daughter is doing the right thing- being healthy and happy always comes first:)
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I can't for the life of me see why not.
    She asks to be released early from her contract and is told no.
    She therefore decides she can never go back to that school and that teaching is a terrible profession.
    Pomza and nomad like this.
  18. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I liked the bit about "Thank you for your advice..." There are few posters who bother to thank others for their responses on this forum.

    i don't agree that being unable to up-sticks and leave a teaching job at a moment's notice makes teaching either difficult or unattractive. Teachers know (or should know) what their contracts involve, including resignation notice periods. The 'three-times-a-year' resignation dates are for the benefit of the pupils and are to help to ensure continuity. However, contracts are there to protect both the employee and the employer.

    Very few teachers seem to consider the fact that schools will abide by the contract and don't "miss the deadline by a few days" when terminating a contract!
    Pomza and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  19. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    she should be able to let her new employers now that she can't be released early, they are likely to hold the job open for her if they really want her
  20. bellingerc

    bellingerc New commenter

    Thank you again for your comments. I do think though that maybe we are missing the point somewhat...

    As a teacher of many years standing I obviously agree that the resignation dates are very important and are designed to put the pupils learning, quite rightly, at the forefront. However, I also feel that it is definitely not in the pupils’ interests to be taught by someone who is patently not teaching them effectively and who is on the brink of collapse!

    Is there any other profession that would make you “perform” everyday for six months longer than you feel you are able? In fact, is there any other profession that requires a newly qualified person to give six months notice? Children deserve the very best teachers and forcing someone who feels unable to teach effectively to stand in front of a class of 30 everyday is surely not in the best interests of our children. Sorry, but I feel that the children come first every time.

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