Advice for Probationer Members: Contracts of Employment

General Issues

The term "contract" is loosely used to mean those arrangements which exist between an employer and an employee which might be capable of being enforced by legal action. There is, however, for most teachers no single document which can be referred to as "my contract".

Any employee's contractual terms are likely to be a combination of at least three elements.

1. A written statement of particulars (the "Principal Statement"): this document is a legislative requirement. The employee must be given, in writing and within 2 months of commencing the relevant employment, certain minimum particulars including the dates when the employment and any continuous employment began; particulars of hours of work; remuneration; holidays; job title or description and place of work.

2. Incorporated terms: these are other contractual terms which are laid down elsewhere and to which the Principal statement will usually refer. For teachers the most obvious of these are the terms contained in the SNCT Scheme of Conditions of Service for Teachers and any local agreements sanctioned by the Scheme.

3. Implied terms: these are terms which are "understood" in any contract. Put generally, the employee will not act against the interests of the employer and the employer will treat the employee fairly. (It is generally easier to establish breaches of the former than the latter.) In particular, the employee is expected not to publicly criticise the employer.

It is very important that all teachers retain carefully all documentation referred to above. It is all the more important where the contracted period is part-time and/or "temporary". In particular, never discard the salary slips which you will receive monthly or at the termination of a fixed term contract.

The "Probationer" Contract

A model contract has been produced to cover the probation year. It will probably be issued to all probationers in a form which contains minor amendments pertaining to local conditions.

For the avoidance of doubt (and to correct those authorities who have erred in the matter), the "Probationer Contract" covers a full teaching session for which the remuneration is a complete year's salary (as might reasonably be expected). This salary will be paid in monthly instalments but it would be wise not to expect that the August salary will be one twelfth of the annual amount. It is likely that payment will be made monthly (and usually well in arrears) according to the number of teaching days in the month. It should be noted that you will be expected to attend on all In-Service days but that you should be paid for these.

A copy of the model contract is attached for information.

Fixed Term Contracts

It is a regrettable fact that very many new entrants to the profession begin their careers without a permanent post. The best that is offered is "temporary" work. The strict name for the contracts covering most of this work is "fixed term". However, most authorities refer to the teachers as being "temporary". Some of the work is long term (e.g. replacing a teacher on extended absence). Often, however, it is "short-term" i.e. what everyone calls "supply".

It is clear to the Association that many teachers do not receive the minimum required statement of particulars for such work, most obviously for short-term temporary work. Such teachers should demand a written statement. The continuous employment section should be scrutinised for errors.

It is clearly administratively difficult to issue a separate statement of particulars for one day of service as a "supply "teacher. The legal requirements are most easily dealt with by the issue of a general statement of particulars which is completed by a short statement related to each period of service (even where this is only one day). Again, these should be kept carefully. It is also useful to maintain a separate written record of such work. Included in this should be the hours worked in any day (to the minute). This is of particular importance where the length of the teaching day varies.

A separate note relating to fixed term employment is available with this advice.

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