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Is this even legal?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by rustybug, Sep 3, 2015.

  1. I work for an independent school which made a few teachers redundant at the start of term. We are now being required to cover for them. Is this legal? Or does anything go in an independent school??
  2. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I think anything goes. Are you in a union? If you are ask them.
  3. doomzebra

    doomzebra Occasional commenter

    Yes it's legal.
  4. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    That's an interesting question. Redundancy is perfectly legal so long as it can be shown the job position is no longer required. In a factory setting for example, a decline in sales can lead to over-manning. It's perfectly reasonable to ask the staff who remain to be flexible in the work they do. From what you've said so far, it sounds like this is the case.

    Redundancy can't be used to get rid of people whose face doesn't fit and then appoint someone new to do that job. Generally, the rule of thumb in cases of redundancy is last in first out, because redundancy payments are based on the number of years served, so it's cheaper to lose the most recent recruits. If long-term staff are being made redundant, it might ring alarm bells in the union. If the school has recently recruited NQTs and then ditched more expensive older teachers, it's possible they will be breaking the law.

    What's the student intake been like this year? If it's down on previous years, the school needs to do something about its costs. If it's pretty much the same or increased, the school will have to justify why the redundancies were necessary.

    Having said this, the school will only need to justify this to an employment tribunal if any of the redundant people makes a claim for unfair dismissal.

    So far as you're concerned, rusty, your employment contract may give you some clues to the legality of you being asked to cover for redundant staff. I would hazard a guess it includes a clause saying "any other reasonable duties when required."

    Anything goes in all employment scenarios when needs must. The public sector isn't exempt, despite the myth that public sector jobs are gold plated.
  5. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    "It all depends..." [​IMG]

    More information required! On what basis were staff made redundant?

    No, independent schools are not above the law!
  6. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Not sure if it still applies but to make a redundancy the employer has to justify that the person being shot has no job to do. If the redundant persons classes are having to be covered then it sounds like they were fired not made redundant. If they were truly redundant their classes would not exist.
  7. GLG the teacher was made redundant due to falling numbers of students taking her subject and I would imagine falling poifitability of the school as a whole. However there are still some students taking it. So her cover is appearing on SIMS along with the normal cover. I didn't think teachers could be asked to cover for long term or planned absence, much less an absence that was deliberately caused by the school.

    DoY I was thinking more from the POV of the staff left behind than the one who has (quite happily) taken redundancy.
  8. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    The thing that matters then is whether the changes in your job are reasonable. If you are being asked to teach a subject of which you have scant knowledge, that would be unreasonable, both to you and the students. In such a scenario, the school should cease to offer that subject until it has sent staff to be trained in it.

    If it's a subject which is relatively easy to cover, it's probably reasonable, provided account is given for your lack of experience in teaching the subject and adequate support is given.

    FWIW, my career has involved five different jobs, each of which were partly related to the previous one, but involved a host of new challenges. I loved every bit of it. Sure I was taxed at times, but winning the challenges is a real confidence boost and you know what? It made my career so much more enjoyable than it would have been if I'd never enjoyed a career diversion.
  9. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    That is a very worrying situation for the rest of you, Rusty.

    That is probably so, in schools that follow the STPC (although I haven't trawled through it to find axactly what is and what isn't allowed)>


    But in an Independent school they do not have to follow this unless they have agreed to, Which is very unlikely . . .

    If you are in a union (I do hope so) you can consult them. If it's ATL, they have a special section for Indy schools, by the way.

    But unless the request to cover this is unreasonable, or is against what is set out in your contracts, I doubt if you have any comeback here.

    I have heard of another Indy school which recently (last week) made the Head of Prep redundant . . . times are hard in some schools, especially if there are falling pupil numbers.

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  10. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    First of all, not a great way to get staff good will !

    Not anexpert so can't give advice but the college department I worked at for 8 years went through 3 restructures with lots of redundancies and reduction in pay and conditions.

    Although, the teaching staff were very much still needed and a reduction placed added stress and workload on those left, it was legal as long as the college followed the required consultancy period with a chance for union involvement, staff consultation ,suggestions for alternatives etc..

    As the college had a huge financial deficit, it needed to save money by reducing staffing costs.

    I do remember at my ex husband's college, a number of staff were made redundant without the consultation period and they went to a tribunal and won.

    I suspect each case is very individual though and would need proper legal advice.
  11. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I am afraid that I have seen this a few times outside education; make somebody redundant and share out there work amonst the remaining staff. On the whole, the terms were generous enough for people not to be confident of getting more if they went for unfair dismissal. One reason that I left the world of banking was that I hated the way people were treated. Now, the same thing has filtered into education. Very sad.
  12. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Many years back when the labour government had a pay freeze the company I worked for was trying to find innovative ways to get round the pay restrictions and give us a payrise (The company was doing well at the time). They came up with a scheme called 'The more effective working agreement' which the unions thought was a good idea. We were paired up with a colleague in the same dept. I taught my colleague my job and he taught me his thus we were able to cover for each other in holidays, sickness etc. For this we all got an extra wedge in our pay packets. However 12 months later and the firm is not doing so well and they made 50% of us redundant in the knowledge that there would be no skill loss!
  13. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    As my wife will attest, this sort of thing goes on in the Health Service, all the time!
  14. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    I know someone who was a TA in an indy and was asked if she would be the 'teacher' for the reception class. She refused but another TA agreed. Neither had any qualifications in child care at all, except a few o'levels. The parents didnt have a clue what they were paying for.
  15. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I suggest you look at the definition of redundancy in law: www.legislation.gov.uk/.../139, especially the third reason there, where the requirements for work "have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish".

    Not necessarily, although it has been a method, but there are others: https://www.gov.uk/redundant-your-rights/being-selected-for-redundancy. It may depend on the business case being made. For example, if the last in is a physics teacher and there is a need for a physics teacher and but no no need for a music teacher, then the music teacher is at risk, even if he or she the longest serving member of staff.

    A redundancy policy, if one exists, would set out the criteria as they apply to the business case, but S188 of TULRCA 1992 puts consultation requirements on employers if 20 or more employees are to be redundant: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/52/section/188. I cannot see any consultation requirements for 19 or fewer, and the OP mentions "a few teachers".

    Other aspects of the 1996 legislation list of the minimum period of notice for employees being dismissed: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/18/section/86, but there are exceptions.

  16. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Mrs B worked for some years in an indy prep school. When one 'teacher' left they promoted the cleaner to take the class!
  17. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I might know about that, Blazer! Was it in the N.E.?

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.

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