Are your school’s employment contracts up to date?

When something goes wrong in a school’s relationship with one of its employees, there’s often a need to check that employee’s contract in order to ascertain the employee’s and the school’s rights and obligations towards one another.

All too often we find schools are issuing employees with outdated contracts that don’t take into account the latest legal requirements or recent best practice changes, or which are lacking sufficient detail.

In April 2020, the law was updated so that all employees and workers are now entitled to a written statement of employment particulars from their employer on or before their first day of employment, no matter how long they are employed for. It also became obligatory that the statement must contain information specifying hours and days of work, paid leave entitlement, entitlement to benefits, the details of the probationary period and any training requirements.

In addition, recent changes to the requirements for the calculation of holiday for term time only workers have resulted in contractual terms not reflecting the legal requirements. Prior to this, there were also the changes to data protection requirements and the “me too” movement has seen a move away from blanket confidentiality clauses. Many schools will also find that as their practices and policies have changed over the years, their contracts no longer reflect the school’s needs or way of operating.

What is a written statement of particulars?

A written statement of employment particulars is provided by an employer to an employee or worker which must contain the following information:

  • The names of the employer and worker
  • The employer’s address
  • Date on which employment started. If the individual is an employee, the period of “continuous employment”
  • Whether the job is for a fixed-term or permanent
  • The workers normal working hours, the days of the week the worker is required to work, and whether such hours or days may be variable. If they are, an explanation as to how they vary or how that variation is to be determined
  • The worker’s job title, or a brief description of the job
  • Details of where the employee or worker is expected to work and if this may be abroad
  • Pay and how often the employee or worker shall be paid
  • Holiday entitlement and pay
  • The notice period either side must give
  • Sick leave and any other paid leave
  • Any other benefits including any non-contractual benefits
  • Probation period including conditions in which this could be extended
  • Any training required
  • This information is typically included in an employment contract.

Further information such as pension arrangements, any collective agreements, details of training to be completed and disciplinary procedures must be provided to the employee or worker within two months of their start date.

What this means for schools

Schools should periodically review, and if necessary, update their employment contracts to ensure that you do not fall foul of the legal requirements and to put you in the strongest possible position in the event of any disputes with employees.

If you would like us to review your school’s template employment contracts, please contact our Schools and Charities team.