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Unfair contract?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by seiglinde, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. seiglinde

    seiglinde New commenter

    Asking for a young relative who has just been offered a teaching job at an Academy. 2 things in her contract are of concern :
    1) only statutory sick pay will be paid in the event of illness.
    2) any training undertaken - the cost will be charged to the employee in the event that they leave the employment of the Academy.

    this young woman lost her teaching job just before the start of lockdown, and is desperate to get back in to employment again, but understandably is very concerned about the above conditions.
    Does anybody have any experience of this sort of thing? Is it usual? Unusual? Any advice would be really appreciated!
  2. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    I can only comment on no. 2, which was a clause inserted into my last independent school's standard staff contract. It was added because they had a tendency to employ people straight out of university (and pay them a horrendously low salary) and put them through teacher training; these colleagues would have a tendency to leave for a better school the moment they qualified! I think they were 'allowed' to stay for two years after qualification before being 'allowed' to leave without being charged.

    It would mostly be a worry if your relative is on a teacher training programme (GTP?) or intends to pursue CPD well beyond the odd inset. That's my hunch. However, it would be worthwhile querying exactly what this "any training undertaken" entails, and if there is a time limit to this clause.
    agathamorse, Morninglover and steely1 like this.
  3. catbanj

    catbanj Occasional commenter

    That is concerning and other places will offer better contracts but if that is all that is on offer she will have to decide whether to accept it or not.

    I have had a 2 year period within which I had to repay training money after the school paid for an expensive course I wanted to do. I agreed to get the training I wanted and left at the end of the 2 years. I'd be unhappy at that continuing indefinitely.

    In the absence of a better offer, she could accept the contract and work there, while she looks for something better. At least that way she can pay her bills.
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  4. Corvuscorax20

    Corvuscorax20 Senior commenter

    Both of these seem normal to me. Not ideal, but normal
    install and mothorchid like this.
  5. seiglinde

    seiglinde New commenter

    Thanks. She is not training there, she has already passed her teaching qualification. She’s going to query both of the conditions, as they were not mentioned when the role was offered.
  6. seiglinde

    seiglinde New commenter

    Normal? I’m shocked, (but then I retired from teaching just over a year ago)
  7. Corvuscorax20

    Corvuscorax20 Senior commenter

    Is that wise? It looks like a bog standard academy contract to me. It isn't going to change. If she wants the job, she signs it, if it she doesn't like it, she doesn't sign it. If she starts querying perfectly standard terms and conditions, then she is going to look like a trouble maker before she even starts
  8. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    I believe it is quite usual in other professions to expect an employee to repay the cost of training if he/she leaves within a certain amount of time.
    A friend of mine who runs a hairdressers/salon paid for a member of staff to have training on various new techniques, who then immediately left and set up on her own, using said techniques. She had to pay my friend back the cost of the courses, which was several hundred pounds.Seems fair to me if you look at it this way.
    I would assume the SSP clause is also time limited? As she builds up a longer service there, things should be different. I think when I swapped LEA about 10 years ago, I only got sick pay for a smallish number of days over the first couple of years, rising to the usual 100 days etc as I was there longer.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I'm surprised that other posters aren't more surprised!

    I think they are both unusual and a reduction in the conditions of employment teachers in most schools enjoy. But maybe academy chains have been sneaking them in and I haven't noticed because my schools are LA. I assume she isn't being offered employment on Burgundy Book terms.

    The lack of sick pay would concern me more than the training costs. Does it improve with longer service or never go above SSP?

    Two things I'd clarify re training. Is this time-limited? Private sector often have clauses like this but usually they say that you have to repay if you leave within 2 years of doing the training. Not indefinitely. Also confirm it only applies to external training costs where school has actually paid out a fee for your relative to attend. Otherwise they could charge for all those tedious INSET days held in the school where an SLT member subjects you to death by PowerPoint for 3 hours!
  10. Corvuscorax20

    Corvuscorax20 Senior commenter

    Isn't there a clause in TeachFirst that people have to pay back their training costs if they leave within 2 years? I know TeachFirsters who have been left suicidal by being so desperate to get out, but hamstrung by financial clauses.
    install likes this.
  11. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Agree with Rott Weiler.

    I'd certainly question them - if the school turns nasty, you'll know where you stand should you accept the contract.

    NB If worried about breaking their word to accept this job, the OP's relative could always cross out the two disputed clauses, and sign the contract and return it. (keeping a copy). If the school don't like this, no doubt they'll tell her the job offer is withdrawn so she won't be withdrawing.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    They aren't normal and are absolutely appalling, in state schools especially.

    The first is, as @Rott Weiler says, the most concerning if academies are starting to try it, though some cash strapped independents have a similar clause.
    I would certainly suggest she asks if this is a permanent state, or for the first year or so, or if better sick pay is discretionary. All of which could be the case. This isn't troublemaking, but normal and expected. Of course people should, and do, query their contracts.

    The second isn't as rare (Though as others have said, usually has a time limit or no one could ever leave) and can relate to things like the SENDCO training where school may have paid a four figure sum, only for the member of staff to leave almost as soon as they are qualified. School then has to pay out yet again for the next person. This is easy to avoid, just don't do any CPD!

    Definitely query the clauses and think hard about accepting the post on these terms. There will be other schools advertising soon, but it depends on her financial commitments. However much this relative needs a job, does she really need it this much? Or perhaps accept it for September and keep looking elsewhere for Christmas onwards?
  13. install

    install Star commenter

    No shocks here.

    There are Academies and free schools that do not recognise Unions either. I wouldn’t work in the school simply because there will be lots of more problems hidden in the small print. This may well be just the tip of a sinking ship. So if there are alarm bells ringing now try to imagine how loud they will be in once tied in. This sounds like the type of place that will be a stepping stone to hell to me.

    I would withdraw my offer of agreement immediately and look for work elsewhere. Clearly the Academy are preying on those who will to put it mildly will slog their guts out, and it isn’t worth lowering oneself to that level.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2020
  14. agathamorse

    agathamorse Senior commenter

    In many academies the SSP thing is normal. In academies I've worked in, this clause is for the first two years. I've never come across the paying back for training clause.
    install likes this.
  15. seiglinde

    seiglinde New commenter

    Hmmm, I don’t agree. I still think these things should have been mentioned, and they were not.
  16. seiglinde

    seiglinde New commenter

    She isn’t Teach First. She is qualified.
  17. seiglinde

    seiglinde New commenter

    I’m sorry of course, for those people that this has happened to, awful.
  18. averagedan

    averagedan Established commenter

    Issue 1 - not normal for a school and I would never accept a contract at a school which allows this to happen. When you watch a sickness bug sweep through a school you need staff to stay home and not spread the illness further. You can't punish your staff for having 1,000+ people in a small space.

    Issue 2 - standard whether it's explicitly in your contract or not. The general rule is that you have to work for an employer for two years after the course is completed and if you leave before then course fees will normally be repaid pro-rata on a sliding scale. Most schools don't enforce this - none I have ever worked at do.
  19. seiglinde

    seiglinde New commenter

  20. seiglinde

    seiglinde New commenter

    I did think about suggesting she does this!

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