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Job Offer Accepted, then current teacher retracted resignation. Help!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by harrylloyd, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. harrylloyd

    harrylloyd New commenter


    My girlfriend accepted a job offer just over a month ago to be a Year 5 primary school teacher starting from January with a 6 month contract.

    Since, she has spent days in school, covered lessons, and is being inducted into the school. She has given payment details and will get her first payslip this month.

    There is written confirmation of her being offered the job and accepting it, but (possibly crucially) no contracts have been signed nor has she seen any contracts.

    On Saturday we got the news that the teacher she is replacing (who apparently needed a break from teaching) has retracted her resignation.

    Today, we found out that the school governors have decided to accept her retraction and now my girlfriend is left without a job.

    This isn't fair on her - she was looking for a job for 9+ months.

    Can they do this? What are our options? Please help if you feel you have any relevant advice.

  2. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    In short, no. The absence of signed contracts makes not difference - once an unconditional job offer has been made and accepted then it is binding on both sides. For a summary, see https://www.gov.uk/job-offers-your-rights . To take things further, she really needs legal advice, so should get straight on to her union.
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Agree with post #2.

    It is often pointed out on here that a contract exists whether or not it has been signed. If I was the OP's girlfriend, I'd be working out how much this has cost me (net pay, after tax etc is deducted) , and I would tell my Union (or solicitor) that you want the school to pay it in full. As a starting point.
  4. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    My guess would be that the loss could be quantified as the pay until the end of the notice period - the end of April if it were under STPCD. But as we both say, union!
  5. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Sorry to hear this but listen to the advice above, UNION and now and also on the bright side, this will not be a case of 'he said, she said,' because she has proof the existence of a contract i.e. of being in the school and preparing for the takeover. Compile all the evidence she can, even things like being given passwords to access sensitive student data etc.

    I hope the school can come to a satisfactorily compromise so that your girlfriend isn't severely disadvantaged.
  6. Flanks

    Flanks Established commenter

    The letter serves as a contract, so union will walk this one. Still sucks though.
  7. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter


    This happened to a school I worked in (although before my time). A married couple on the staff were planning to go travelling, and the school got on and appointed replacements before they formally put in their resignations. Then they discovered they were expectinga baby - and of course the travel plans got put on hold. The school was committed to employing the replacements, so they had to declare a redundancy, and someone took early retirement.
    This will be why, two or three years later, someone who came third in an interview was told "we almost certainly have a job for you, but the chap won't put in his resignation before his visa has come through for going to teach overseas, so we'll let you know as soon as we can."
    agathamorse and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  8. Wilmthrop

    Wilmthrop New commenter

    Has the school formally retracted the job offer (verbally or in writing/email) or is this the conclusion which you have come to after seeing the teacher she was supposed to be replacing successfully retract their resignation?

    I apologize if this question sounds stupid, but I think the above question is very important:
    • As commentators have already pointed out, if the school has formally retracted the job offer then they have made a rookie error. Although the situation is absolutely horrible, your girlfriend will be able to make easy work of them with the support of the union. The 2016 court case McCann v Snozone Ltd confirmed that so much as a verbal offer of employment constituted a legally binding contract. In this case, McCann accepted an offer of employment over the phone (bear in mind that salary and start date had not even been agreed). The offer was subsequently withdrawn by the employer so McCann took Snozone to a tribunal and was awarded damages for breach of contract amounting to a month's salary (in other words £2,708). Your girlfriend has a far stronger case. Not only has a verbal offer of employment been made and accepted; this, I assume, has also been confirmed in writing. Moreover, the extensive amount of time that they have spent inducting her coupled with the fact that she has been added to the school's payroll all confirm beyond reasonable doubt that an offer of employment has been made and accepted. I do not understand why the school leadership would place itself in a legally and financially deleterious position by retracting your girlfriend's job offer. Surely, the HR manager would be fully aware of the potential consequences this could incur.
    • This leads me on to my second point. I resigned from my current teaching position at the end of October so as to take on a new role starting in January. The day after I informed SLT of the outcome of my interview, I saw my job advertised on TES. I was unnerved by this as I had not resigned officially and wanted to know my legal rights if the unthinkable happened and my new job offer fell through. I contacted the Union and it aspired that until I submitted a formal resignation letter I was secure in my position. If the school were to offer a prospective candidate my teaching position before I formally resigned then they would be obliged to employ both of us in the event I did not resign. Is it possible that the school has made the decision to keep your girlfriend and the teacher that she was supposed to be replacing on?
    • If the school have decided to renege on the legally-binding commitments that they have made towards your girlfriend (and assuming that they are logical in so doing) then I can only assume that they've engaged in a cost-benefit analysis and decided that any financial sanctions they incur as a result of their misdeeds are worthwhile if it means having the old teacher back (was she a popular/well-established member of staff?) and cheaper than keeping both of them on the payroll.
    As other posters have said, your girlfriend should compile every bit of evidence she has and immediately make contact with the union. This sounds like an absolutely horrific and gut-wrenching experience. My sympathies are with you both! Whatever happened to common decency, eh?
  9. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Lead commenter

    Has your girlfriend actually been informed that she no longer has the job or are you jumping to conclusions?
    Lara mfl 05 and Dyathinkhesaurus like this.
  10. cornflake

    cornflake Established commenter

    I have an unfilled vacancy for January btw... where are you based?!
    but the current school really need to honour the contract!
    Definitely would expect the salary to be paid for the agreed time period... ludicrous!
  11. Dyathinkhesaurus

    Dyathinkhesaurus New commenter

    How does your girlfriend know this to be the case?
  12. harrylloyd

    harrylloyd New commenter

    She has been informed that they have decided to accept the current teachers resignation retraction, so yes.

    Thank you all for your replies.
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    In the real world, yes, but in teaching, 'With all the cuts, etc and so forth.'

    Keeping sane whilst pursuing a career in teaching is an art form. :rolleyes:Hope your lovely lass gets a school that deserves her soon. It may well have been a lucky escape, as one door closes another one opens, every cloud as a silver lining.:)
  14. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    This is actually a problem for the lady who handed in her notice, then for the school if they decide to overlook the notice.
    However, it's still worrying and a reason why union membership is worth paying during the trouble-free years.
  15. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    That doesn't change their legal obligation to pay up.
  16. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Yes, if they are really short of money, paying their legal debts may lead to a necessity to cut the pay of the HT who made this crass decision... ;)
  17. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    What it does do is to demonstrate that not every HT is well-informed about employment law and therefore some of them walk into a bear trap. There's a lesson in this somewhere for HTs and others!
  18. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    According to GOV.UK, a resignation can be given verbally unless there is something in your contract to say that it must be in writing. https://www.gov.uk/handing-in-your-notice/giving-notice . That could lead to an argument about exactly what was said. "I was offered the job" and "I was offered the job and will be leaving on …" do not mean exactly the same thing.
  19. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    When I was on the SLT (two schools), the general rule was that nothing could be done as far as appointing a teacher until the outgoing teacher had resigned in writing, even if a verbal resignation 'got the wheels moving' to appoint someone else...
    border_walker likes this.
  20. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Hope this gets sorted.

    If not, would your girlfriend really want to work in a school like this? It may be a lucky escape.

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