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Threatened with termination of contract - help!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by austkl, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. austkl

    austkl New commenter

    If anyone can help me I would be much appreciative.
    I have worked at a free school since September 2014. In June 2016, I had 4 weeks off (the first four weeks after half term), because of work related stress. I came back to work the last week and a half before the end of the school year and started back in September as normal.
    Between September and January I began to struggle again, it was as if the stress of being off in June, had opened a mental can of worms and I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. School was less than supportive, but this is the impression I get that surrounds mental health issues.

    The second week in January I was unable to handle it, and have been off since then until last week. Occupational Health got involved and suggested a clear phased return for me over the next four weeks, which I have kept to and gone over really (in terms of duties at school), and thought things were going positively.

    The HR manager has just informed me today that regardless of this, they are talking to their legal team about terminating my contract, as they don't feel that I will be up for the job come September. As there won't be a Head of Department in place, but the Head of Department duties will still be there (essentially I would be a HOD without the pay - damn free schools). The HR Manager also clarified there is no issue with my actual teaching. This came as a bit of a shock as it was supposed to be an informal meeting.

    So I am wondering what on earth their grounds are for termination of contract. Surely they can't just terminate my contract because of illness, when I am following the back to work procedure and have had no issues, and if anything this is more than likely going to cause me stress and anxiety, which is what I am trying to overcome.

    Any advice, legal or otherwise would be extremely helpful.

    Thank you.
  2. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I am afraid that, unless your medical condition amounts to a disability as defined by Equality Act 2010, unless you've got at least 2 years continuous employment with the same employer, you can be dismissed very easily, as long as you are given your contractual notice. :(
  3. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    It's a free school - anything goes
  4. austkl

    austkl New commenter

    Which I think is what they are planning to do (the contractual notice). But surely they need to have a valid reason for it? though?
  5. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Are you a member of a union? (If not, why not?). I'd ask them.
  6. austkl

    austkl New commenter

    Yep I am, just waiting on a response from them of course, but wanted to see on any advice from the TES Community!
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I am really sorry that you are having this extra stress at a time when you are trying hard to get back into the swing of things at school.

    I think that the clear setting out of your situation is here:

    A school is an employer like any other, and so general Employment Law applies for dismissal. Free School, Academy, Independent, Maintained - it makes no difference. You can and should consult your union, of course, and see if they have any helpful suggestions. But having been there less than 2 years is the key point here.

    I hope that your recover your health, and find alternative employment as soon as possible after the end of your contract in this school.

    Best wishes for a more hopeful future

  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Yes, I am afraid it's fairly common for a contract to be terminated before that magic 2-year mark. Employers know exactly what they are doing.

    Once you pass that point you are entitled to a variety of 'benefits' in terms of sick pay and redundancy pay so I can easily imagine a school with an insecure revenue flow acting before they have to treat you rather better than hitherto.
    slingshotsally likes this.
  9. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Hi OP,

    Sorry to hear of your misfortune. Wish you every luck in finding a new post.
    Yoda- likes this.
  10. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    Unfortunately they seem to have decided they do not want you. Even if you had done two years, I wonder if you would ever have been happy there?

    I would look at your options which seem to be applying for other posts and possibly supply. You need to leave them behind. They are not worth it, free (to do almost anything) schools.
    slingshotsally likes this.
  11. austkl

    austkl New commenter

    I don't understand this magic two year mark, I've never heard of it before, can you explain?
  12. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

  13. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Google it.
  14. englishteach101

    englishteach101 Occasional commenter

    Sending hugs, you don't need this at the moment
  15. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    neither do we! trip trap... :)
    monicabilongame likes this.

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