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Signing supply contracts, need advice

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by jamtart20, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. jamtart20

    jamtart20 New commenter

    I was offered a job by a local school after a new agency I signed up to sorted out an interview for this post - I had three agencies approach me with this job. My old agency were pretty useless in finding me work, hence the three!

    I have had very little supply since September so have had to cancel my union membership as without work I can't afford the sub. The union I used wouldn't offer me help with my issue for obvious reasons.

    I was made aware that the agency use an umbrella for earnings and persuaded me that this expense lark was worth doing.

    However having researched this, I found out about the changes in April and contacted the umbrella and my agency contact asking to be put on the agency's PAYE payroll as I refuse to do this expenses stuff on various grounds.

    The agency didn't even acknowledge my e-mail but the umbrella got back to me with a new contract - I refused to sign the umbrella's old one - and I noticed various clauses in there, such as exclusivity for work and other clauses which I don't agree with.

    Does anyone know what more I can do in order that I get the job - it starts straight after half-term - and not be lumbered firstly with a restrictive umbrella contract and secondly I end up on the agency payroll NOT the umbrella PAYE payroll? I assume the agency must legally have their own PAYE payroll.

    I am not going to contact the school as I assume they wash their own hands once they bring agencies on board and they have arrangements with whoever brings them teaching staff.
  2. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    This is confusing :confused: but firstly you are right not to involve the school. Its not their problem about how your pay is handled and they might indeed think about another teacher if there are issues. Secondly you must join a union, they are sometimes only slightly better then useless but their protection could be vital if any accusations are made against you whilst in work,

    Some agencies do have exclusivity contracts where you cannot work for another agency but I'm not sure why an umbrella copamy would want this since they sould handle your pay from multiple agencies, And I'm not sure it would be a problem if they did, if you must be paid through an umbrella company what is the advantage of dealing with more then one? Or does your agency insist that you use an umbrella company of their choice, not yours?

    However at the end of the day it might be that if you want the placement you might just have to put up with the agency/umbrella company's constraints whilst looking for a new and less restrictive agency to move to once the placement has finished.
  3. educ80

    educ80 Occasional commenter

    Agencies should do all they can to give you the option. In a shortage market with seemingly fewer teachers available to do longer placements, you are a prize asset (for want of a more human phrase).
    You should only be 'forced' onto a payment product if the agency is small/local and do not have their own payroll function. Otherwise the PAYE option should be just that, an option.
    Agencies will always look to push you onto these products regardless because it helps maximise their margins but do not be bullied. If you need to use an umbrella/payment product company then do the following to maximise your earnings.
    -Ring around a few of the payroll companies that offer the service, get quotes off them based on your travel distance and pay. Calculate how much better or worse off you are then being on PAYE and if you are worse off then ring the agency, tell them you are worse off and ask them to uplift your pay to compensate for that loss. Odds are that the agency have room to manouevre because of the benefits they gain from you being on their product.
  4. jamtart20

    jamtart20 New commenter

    This agency isn't small, it operates nationwide in the UK. Apparently they have no payroll themselves. Them and the umbrella company both state that and it's difficult to know whether both companies are lying simply to, as you say, "maximise their margins".

    I have asked the umbrella for a detailed pay breakdown, firstly to find out how much the umbrella fees will be and if they're deducting employers' NI (a trick I know many unscrupulous companies do, which I suspect is completely illegal).

    I have also contacted my agency contact to query my daily rate, given that I am expected to carry out full-time responsibilities including marking, planning, preparation, assessment and extra-curricular on a day rate. I'm not sure how that will go to be honest but I feel that given I was allegedly the desired candidate for the role, the commuting distance isn't small and I meet the job spec perfectly, I should be on more than the bare minimum. However it might be unrealistic to expect an upward change!

    What confuses me slightly is that the agency is apparently not my employer, the umbrella is. However, the agency is listed as my employer in my CRB which came this week. I know this is an issue which other people have mentioned on other threads, but from what I've read there doesn't seem to be a definitive answer.

    I suspect the umbrella which was recommended is a subsidiary of the recruitment agency but haven't found anything online to back this up.

    I did think about "shopping around" regarding different umbrellas, but I don't have time to research all the pros and cons, particularly when there are hidden fees involved in some but not all of these companies.

    Regarding the payroll companies, thanks for that tip, I will see if I have time tomorrow to check that out.
  5. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    Many schools have no idea that agencies are making so much money at their expense.
    Are you going to be paid your proper scale rate? How much will the school be charged?
    If it's not a one off introduction fee, why is the agency involved long term and paying you through a UC bearing in mind the law is supposed to be changing in April.
    The problem is that contractually, if the job materialises, you will have far fewer employee's rights if you are agency staff. Why is the school not advertising the post directly on its website or in the Press?
    It all sounds really suspicious.
  6. jamtart20

    jamtart20 New commenter

    I'm going to be paid £115 a day until the end of March. Looking at the main scale I would be M2 unless I could negotiate M3 which I guess isn't that much more.

    Using the 1/195 ratio, I should on M2 get £123.08 so it's not that much lower. However as I said previously, I am in the process of querying that, given this isn't a simple "clock in clock out" job.

    After I found out this post was available, I looked on the school website. No such advertisement. If I had my time again I would have rang the school after the agency tip-off and dealt with them directly and potentially ended up getting more and costing the school a lot less.

    I have no clue how much the school is charged and I don't suppose there's a way of finding out, unless I personally knew the cover manager at the school (if they indeed have one).

    You've probably guessed by now that I'd rather not deal with agencies and even less so the leeching organisations called "umbrellas".

    I was told that after the 12 weeks I would "probably" be employed directly. Sounds a bit like the "we'll try to get you more than your lowest asking rate".

    It's likely that the post will extend through until July. My own thought on this is how likely is it I'll get the contract ended right at the last day of term? I can't imagine the school will want to pay me through the summer if they can avoid it. Perhaps I'm being too cynical, but I've had enough negative experiences and I'm only in the first year after completing induction!!! :D
  7. jamtart20

    jamtart20 New commenter

    Another point which I forgot to add is that the agency and umbrella both espoused the advantages of going with an umbrella (over no alternative basically) because of the "expenses".

    I was always uncomfortable with that and it shouldn't surprise you to hear that neither the agency nor the umbrella mentioned the change in law over expenses. I had to mention it to them to demand payment via PAYE.

    Apparently the agency doesn't have its own payroll, they use the umbrella for their PAYE payroll, so I have to as well.

    It feels very wrong but I have to earn a living.
  8. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    I'm sure I've read on the forum somewhere that it is illegal for an agency not to give you the option of PAYE.

    If alarm bells are ringing you should stay away from the job.

    If you've worked out that your agency pay is almost to scale then I don't think you are doing too badly.

    If you want a higher pay rate don't plead. Ring them up have a prepared script. Tell them that you will walk if you don't get what you want - PAYE and a higher rate - and mean it. Have a set minimum in mind.
    (If the firm is named after a water plant they definitely do PAYE).

    Finally, if you were prepared to go behind agency's back after they'd given you information you could not have got alone you are doing the rest of us no favours at all. I can see now why my agency will never give me the name of a school at the start of a conversation.
  9. pixiewixiepixie

    pixiewixiepixie Occasional commenter

    The OP needs to start taking responsibility for their own work. You do not need agencies! Search the forum for limited companies. It is easy to work for yourself and far more lucrative. Your pay is £123 a day. You are being messed around by all concerned. My pay is £240 a day and no one messes me around. Or to put it another way, I earn in 11 days what it takes you all month to earn - why are you so content to let this state of affairs continue?

    Agencies are there to make easy money off the backs of hard working teachers.

    Wake up. Ditch them.
    guinnesspuss likes this.
  10. jamtart20

    jamtart20 New commenter

    I wasn't prepared to do anything to be honest, I used the phrase "if I had my time again I would do X". Not quite the same thing if we're honest.

    The agency won't give anyone the name of schools because they want to keep you in the dark as much as possible.
    Knowledge is power after all.

    It's how they're able to persuade so many people to get into bed with these scandalous umbrella companies who do nothing but filter a significant proportion out of the pockets of schools and other taxpayer paid agencies.

    It's how they ask for your minimum rate, tell the school your maximum and pocket the difference on top of the fees they charge.

    It's how they will ask you for contacts within your sphere of work in order to add to their client base. Why is "going behind agency's back" any different? It isn't, and given the saving the school would make if they dealt with me directly, I would be doing the right thing. I would be saving the school money.

    I find it a bit rich that my professionalism is called into question when these agencies rely completely on the ignorance of their teachers by withholding information they're entitled to know, such as this expenses business or what they told the school your rate was.

    I had to challenge my agency on this expenses business, as they were espousing the benefits and neglecting to mention that us teachers won't be able to claim from April, only mere weeks after my "assignment" starts.

    I know my viewpoint is extremely cynical and a bit hypocritical, but unfortunately as I found to my cost as an NQT, people will treat you abysmally if they think they can get away with it and these agencies are no different. I can live with the fact that my hypocrisy would lead to more money staying in school budgets and not leaving through pointless intermediaries.
  11. pleasemiss__

    pleasemiss__ Occasional commenter

    £240 per day is yours? No cut to an agency? That is brilliant money. And ensures you have enough for holiday times etc. I used to get £96 a day in Dorset. What a joke. At least in London I get a more acceptable figure... still no where close to £240 though.

    How do you bill schools? That would be my fear.

    240 x 20 days. That's like, 7 months rent for me. Crazy. I am a mugggg.
  12. pixiewixiepixie

    pixiewixiepixie Occasional commenter

    "How do you bill schools? That would be my fear."

    I don't understand the "fear".

    At the end of the week, you and the person responsible for you, usually the Head of a Department or the Business Manager signs a time sheet which says you worked the days and hours in the last week.

    You also make up a standard invoice and print one off (with your company name, business ID and business address and logo, a unique invoice number you make up eg invoice number 1879878, today's date, the service provided and the organisation you provided it to, the days you provided it, the daily rate agreed when the school took you on, the total due for the week, the date by which payment must be made (I give 10 working days from the date on the invoice), your full bank details for BACS transfer and your email and phone contact details). Once you have made a template you just change it slightly each time you need a new one.

    Then you give the time sheet and invoice to the finance department. Then they pay you. You keep a careful copy of all invoices given to the school and all payments received, so you know all correct payments are made and for records the accountant needs.

    What is this "fear"? You are a business trading with another business. No middle man means no agency fees means about double your income. Use an agency and your income about halves.

    People need to wake up and stop looking for problems where none exist. Working directly for schools, being a professional business that doesn't use an agency is easy BUT you must treat it like a business, learn about marketing yourself, doing mailshots, networking, keeping your skills up to date, reviewing your strategy etc etc It is very satisfying being you own real boss.

    Why be thrown peanuts by agency monkeys?
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016
  13. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Many supply teachers who are not getting much work seem unaware that you don't need to be paying full-time equivalent Union subs. At the end of my time as a supply teacher I was paying for '0.3 or below' category of subs.

    Union subs are also tax deductible and you can back claim for the past 4 tax years if you haven't claimed so far.

    Agency worker regulations means that the agency has to pay you the usual rate for the job after you've worked at one workplace for more than 12 weeks. For school work that means 12 school weeks.

    When on a daily rate as a supply teacher you NEVER get paid for days in the holidays. The daily rate is made up of pay for the work and a holiday pay element. Some agencies pay the entire daily rate as you go along. Others take out the holiday pay element and you have to request it (usually during holiday periods but also during term time periods of little work). I reckon that they expect a proportion of workers, perhaps using several agencies, to forget about the held-back pay!
  14. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    As PixieWP has pointed out, there really isn't a lot to setting yourself up as a freelance worker.
    The slog is in the marketing. You have to hit on a lot of prospects before you get them to book you.
    As said, find out who books the supply at any school and talk to them. You have to be assertive to get an appointment, give them a date and assume they said yes, send an email confirming it, then turn up, make your pitch and give them the contact and payment info.
    Assertiveness is the skill. You need it in class anyway. It really doesn't matter if you have a PhD in your subject, if you can't get people to listen to you.

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