Work life balance

One of the National Workload Agreement's requirements is that teachers in the maintained sector should have a reasonable work-life balance - and that headteachers should be responsible for ensuring this.

While the workload agreement only applies to the maintained sector and members TUPE transferred over to academies, it is clearly a very useful benchmark for all sectors. ATL has produced work-life balance toolkits for teachers in the maintained and independent sectors.

Sixth form college teachers

Guidance on a wide range of issues related to work-life balance in sixth form colleges has been produced by the National Joint Council (NJC), the body which formally negotiates pay and conditions for staff in the sector.

The guidance is the result of discussions between the employers and the trade unions representing both teaching and support staff in sixth form colleges. It covers a range of issues including parental leave, maternity support/paternity leave, adoption leave, time off for dependants (urgent family leave), time off for fertility treatment, time off for religious observances and working times and patterns.

Further education

ATL and the national employers' body (the Association of Colleges) have agreed national guidelines for colleges and FE institutions on work-related stress.

Advice for headteachers

Headteachers must have 'regard to the desirability' of teachers at their schools being able to achieve a satisfactory balance between working time and time to pursue personal interests outside work.

Additional hours must be limited to those that are 'reasonable'. Schools should have decided how they can work towards this, not least in the context of expectations that average working time will reduce year by year. For example, teachers could use the principle of work-life balance to resist any increases in the number of evening meetings that they may be asked to undertake.

Changes in working practices

Cutting down teachers' time spent on administrative and clerical tasks should have a consequential effect on reducing overall working time. The entitlement to a reasonable amount of time in the school day for leadership and management duties should have the same consequence.

Fresh attention has to be given to all requirements or expectations for teachers to work before school, at lunchtime, in the evenings and at weekends. This includes meetings in particular.

Finally, the school should start to consult staff about other changes that will genuinely help teachers to have more time and energy for their personal interests outside of work.

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

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