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How soon should formal resignation be responded to?

Discussion in 'Independent' started by teacherofmany, Jul 14, 2016.

  1. teacherofmany

    teacherofmany New commenter

    As is probably obvious from the title, I have recently (just over 7 weeks ago) resigned my post at a small independent school (non-burgundy book T&C). My contract states that one term's notice has to be given which, due to the circumstances that led me to needing a better paid post, wasn't possible. I had discussed this with the headteacher prior to attending the interview and was assured that the shorter notice period wouldn't be an issue.

    On 11th July, 36 hours before the end of term, I was handed a letter acknowledging receipt on 20th May of my resignation letter. Monday's letter did not make any reference to the end date I had stated in my resignation (31st August) but 'officially confirmed' that my final day would be 13th July; the final day of the school year. No mention was made of salary but I am assuming that this means the proprietor has decided I will forfeit my salary for not giving the full notice period.

    I am not disputing the fact that by resigning on 20th May to leave at the end of August, I have given 'insufficient' notice but I do feel that the proprietor has been unreasonable in taking over 7 weeks to inform me that my finishing date is 36 hours away/over 6 weeks sooner than I had believed it to be. This has serious financial consequences for me and, had I been aware that this was the proprietor's intention, I would have discussed the possibility of starting my new post after the May half-term instead of September (it was advertised with a start date of 'as soon as possible').

    In case it's relevant, the proprietor has no intention of recruiting a replacement for me.

    It feels as though the proprietor has been deliberate in taking such a long time to respond, possibly because had I left at the May half-term, there would be no-one else to teach the Y6 class I have been covering, supposedly for a fortnight but actually for two terms (whilst also expected to carry out the role I was employed to do). My union is unable to help as it says that the contract is clear about one term's notice being required.This is my first experience of an independent school so I'd be grateful for any input you are able to give re: a reasonable time frame in which a formal letter of resignation should be responded to.
  2. pennyh.

    pennyh. Occasional commenter

    Did you write back and correct the July13th to August 31st i.e. do you have their position clearly in writing to such a response?
  3. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Certainly I would have expected a formal letter of resignation to have been responded to promptly. It 's also very important that any agreements/understandings you feel you have with the proprietor are in writing, not based on verbal assurances which could be later denied. In your original letter it would, perhaps, have been a good idea to say: "Following our discussion on (date) I understand that, despite not giving a full term's notice, I will be released and will continue to be paid until August 31st 2016." In his/her reply the proprietor should then have made clear whether they agreed this was the case, too. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that so many weeks have passed without the lack of response being followed up on, but as the correct notice hasn't been given and there is no written assurance that you will be paid until the end of August, I fear you are not in a strong position.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    As I assume term has now ended (36 hours since 11th July) there isn't an awful lot you can do. And given your contract with the school has also now ended there is even less. You needed to address this immediately on the 11th.

    You resigned outside the notice period and are very, very lucky you were allowed to do so. A great many staff find themselves working a long notice period because they secured a new post shortly after the one term limit. Read your contract carefully and see what the penalties for not giving full notice are. It could well be that the standard response is to finish on the last day of term.
  5. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    Was anyone with you/have you any 'proof' of the head saying you could go early? Did you ask if it would affect your pay?
    I'm not able to give legal advice, like most people on here, but you might want to seek it. As the school wouldn't have been expecting you to go in over the summer anyway (?) it doesn't seem like they've lost anything, and you say they're not replacing you, but perhaps your union could help advise as to whether that makes any difference.
  6. teacherofmany

    teacherofmany New commenter

    Thank you for your replies. The headteacher and the proprietor are not the same person; the head is the person who said that the notice I'd given wouldn't be an issue but it is the proprietor who has decreed that Monday's letter should include a finish date within 36 hours of the letter.

    My issue is not that I have given insufficient notice but that the proprietor has been unreasonable in taking over seven weeks to inform me of a different finish date. As the role I was employed to perform is not class-based but I have been placed in class since January (to cover a colleague who left without notice at Christmas), there is a significant amount of work that needs doing over the next few weeks. Parents and external agencies are expecting to receive it but this won't happen now.

    I have had preliminary contact with a solicitor who has advised that the proprietor's response is unlikely to be considered by a tribunal to have been reasonable so will be looking into the legal side of things further.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Read your contract carefully. If it states that resignations mean you finish on the last day of term, then you have nothing to complain about. If it says that resigning late means you may face financial penalties then again you have nothing to complain about. You MUST read the small print of your contract before starting any legal action, which may leave you far worse off.

    Have you spoken to the proprietor to query the date? It could be a simple error or misunderstanding.
  8. manc

    manc New commenter

    Pound to a penny its not a mistake. 'Proprietors' of little indies are always chancers who will do anything to save as few bob, and they know all the tricks in the book.

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