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Notice periods

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by oscillator, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    Probably this should be in pay and conditions, but this forum gets more traffic...

    Has anyone heard of two terms notice required for a classroom teacher?? It's not STPCD, but is it reasonable that this is brought up only notice has been given and not before (contract never given to teacher)?

    Any ideas for how to tell new employer about this too???

    Oh dear, I'm in a pickle, and that was about all my union said....
  2. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Then you should make a formal complaint about your union's advice. People sometimes chide me for complaining about poor union advice but this is a classic example of a failure to support you with appropriate information within the service they contracted with you to provide. They should have told you precisely what I am about to tell you and supported you in asserting it.

    I have heard of two terms for a Headteacher. To attempt to impose a two-term notice period on a classroom teacher, when the standard notice period in most posts is half a term is not reasonable. I have dealt with schools where one term was deemed to be unreasonable. This is because it restrains you from being able to earn a living in your chosen profession by securing a new post and (in my view only) I think an Employment Tribunal would deem it unenforceable, especially in the light of what follows...

    Wholly unreasonable and (IMO) unenforceable. The school is in breach of its duty under s1 ERA 1996 to provide your contract (written statement of the T&Cs contained within it) within two months of the starting date, the penalty for which is two weeks' pay, in the first instance.

    In the absence of written T&Cs and the failure of the school to draw your attention to a non-standard notice term that is particularly onerous and restraining before you agreed to join the school, you are entitled to infer that a standard notice period applies.

    I believe you are entitled to resign giving standard notice. The school may try to be difficult and threaten breach of contract. In my view (only an opinion, of course - not advice), the school would not succeed in oursuing any complaint against you. The effect of their statement is an attempt to introduce a contractual notice term retrospectively and this cannot have effect in a contract.
  3. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    Thank you so so so much GLsghost!! This was exactly the sort of info I was hoping to get from my union... all they told me was to tell the new head and try to convince them to hold the job for me... which I am not entirely convinced they are in a position to do!

    I know it is not always satisfying to see the pain that teachers are in on this forum, but you do so so so much good!!!
    midnight_angel likes this.
  4. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    You're welcome. Bear in mind that school union reps are unlikely to have the necessary understanding of employment contracts to be able to advise on this. You should get better support from your regional office, if necessary.
  5. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Agree with GLsghost - and think you should:

    a) Hold your nerve; you have a new job (I understand) - carry on and prepare to start there (in January, I guess); just tell your HT that you won't be at the school next term - he/she needs to make arrangements (& not just trying to coerce you); and
    b) Get onto your Union at a higher level (regional, perhaps); demand they do more to support you; and finally
    c) Consider changing Union - not now, maybe, but when you start your new job.
  6. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I can vouch for GLsghost's advice.
    I was on 1 term's notice but wanted to apply for a new post in the first half of summer term. I did so, got the job, and was released on the grounds such a clause was unfair and unenforceable.I think yu will find your HT knows this, but they try to scare you.
    Go for it and good luck.
  7. ValentinoRossi

    ValentinoRossi Star commenter

    I've known of several independent schools which insist on two terms notice for classroom teachers.
  8. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I'd fight them for it, even if the teacher had been made aware of this before accepting the job!

    In this particular case, however, the OP has received no advanced notice of this and the school has failed to provide an s1 statement in which it is set out. It's a no brainer! :)
    midnight_angel likes this.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Teachers MUST insist on a contract!

    I have two terms notice in the sense I can't leave before Easter, but I knew what the contract was before I joined the school. And I have a reasonable and understanding head would probably let me go sooner if I wanted to.
  10. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    I did insist on a contract in a staff meeting in front of the whole staff. I was told that my (inaccurate) job description and offer letter are my contract. I was told I could ask for details of grievance procedures (contrary to law, I think, according to my research on the like GLsghost sent me), and other statutory policies. This means I would not be able to leave until Sept, which is effectively a 10 month notice period for a teacher!!!! Is the world going mad, or is it just me!!

    I have notified the new head who seems sympathetic and is happy to discuss with my current head... my current head has not responded to my email requesting an urgent meeting or phone discussion about the issue.
    fishtoe and midnight_angel like this.
  11. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    So does it say in your offer letter that you have to give that length of notice? If it doesn't spell it out, nothing to stop you leaving at Christmas I'd say (& even if it does, then you need legal support from your Union to fight this).
    midnight_angel likes this.
  12. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    The s1 statement (which they haven't given you and had to have given you within two months of the start date) has to include a reference to the grievance and disciplinary policy. If it is not set out in the s1, it could be in a separate staff handbook, but the s1 has to indicate this.

    The remedy is a minimum of two weeks' wages, if they haven't given you the s1. If you have any other successful claims against the school at the same time, the two weeks is doubled! :D
  13. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    The 'Written statement of employment particulars' that @GLsghost refers to is here and I see that one of the things it must include is notice period.

    Does the offer letter say what the notice period is? There's no statutory format for offer letters but they often include notice period. The offer letter and your acceptance of it do form the contract so if the notice period was in the offer letter I'd think it does form part of your contract and you have been advised of it. (Yes @GLsghost ?) I doubt that the subsequent failure to give you the 'Written statement of employment particulars' invalidates the terms of contract in the offer letter so would still be in force (Yes @GLsghost ?)
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
  14. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    No. The letter does not indicate notice period. Arg! I feel like I'm being pushed around a bit because they seemingly hold all the cards! I have worked here for 6 years and wanted to leave on a positive note!! Instead I've got a rotten taste in my mouth!

    My current had has not responded to my emails, but I know she has been speaking to my line manager throughout the last two days. Her assistant won't even email me back to arrange a meeting!!!
  15. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    If the letter doesn't specify a longer notice period, then just stick to your guns and leave at Christmas. If they haven't replaced you it will be their problem (as well as their fault).
    midnight_angel likes this.
  16. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Ooh - I have finally arrived! I think for the first time ever I can do one of @Crowbob's 'Ahems', @Rottweiler. ;)

    There is a very long list of things that MUST be included in the s1 written statement, but s1(4) (e) does indeed provide that the notice period must be stated.


    I take issue with your statement: "The offer letter and your acceptance of it do form the contract..." What forms the contract is the existence of an agreement to trade on specified terms - the 'meeting of minds': an offer, comprising terms capable of being accepted'; an acceptance of those terms; an exchange of consideration (their money; your labour); and an intention to create a legal relationship.
    This does not have to be written. As we tell posters so often, a binding contract exists when those elements are in place and an employment contract does not have to be in writing.

    The offer letter may be an indicative factor in persuading a judge that a contract is in existence - but it is not, in itself, the contract.

    The contract of employment is a combination of express terms (those written down or otherwise overtly stated) and implied terms. Terms may be implied by statute or by custom and practice, or by common sense [the 'officious bystander'] or for business efficacy. Implied terms include things like the duty to maintain a relationship of trust and confidence or the duty to provide a safe workplace.

    The s1 statement sets out which terms are implied by the Employment Rights Act 1996. It implicitly acknowledges the power imbalance between employer and employee and gives effect to an intention to create a more-level playing field. If, by any chance, there was a discrepency between what was stated in an offer letter and the s1 statement, the employee could ask the Tribunal to make a declaration of what the term should be.

    The OP was made aware of no express term relating to the notice period. Terms cannot be incorporated into a contract retrospectively, except by mutual agreement. The school CANNOT therefore attempt to introduce a specific term relating to notice after the contract has been formed.

    In the absence of any express term and the absence of an s1 written statement, it is entirely reasonable for the OP to infer that the school's notice period is as that most commonly in force and to give notice of his intention to terminate his contract in line with that.

    Even if there were an express term to the effect that the OP must give two terms' notice, it would still be arguable (and I have argued it) that it is an unfair contract term because of the impact on the teacher's ability to carry out his trade. Such a teacher would experience considerable difficulty in changing jobs, in a profession in which the more-typical notice period is half a term.
    midnight_angel and Rott Weiler like this.
  17. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    In what way does the s1 statement set out which terms are implied by the ERA? I am a bit confused by this idea (but not certain of myself to issue an 'Ahem')?
  18. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Email and hand in a letter today (Friday) giving 31st December as the date on which your current contract ends. Your last working day will be the whatever of December. Thank them for six good years. Ask the person to whom you hand it to give you a receipt. Write a receipt and get them to sign it.
  19. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Surely they can insist all they like but at the end of the day it is up to you. I was once told that even the normal resignation dates cannot be enforced in law. If you are salaried and paid monthly then you only need give 1 months notice.
    midnight_angel likes this.
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    What are they going to do?

    Sue you? No.
    Give you a bad reference? They can't if it's untruthful.

    Plus you have an employer lined up and ready.

    midnight_angel likes this.

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