Supply teacher employment rights: England

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Rights and conditions
06 December 2016
The following is a summary of the statutory rights of supply teachers in the maintained sector in England.

Supply teachers who are in a 'pool' maintained by a LA, those located through the school's own contacts, or part-timers who wish to temporarily increase their hours, are likely to be employees of the school or LA for their period of supply work. As employees, they will qualify for the numerous protections and benefits that arise from such status. These include:

  • pay in accordance with and by reference to the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document
  • membership of the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS)
  • redundancy payments (after two years continuous service)
  • protection against unfair dismissal (after two years of continuous employment).

These rights are the same as those enjoyed by full-time teachers in the maintained sector in England and Wales.

Agency staff

The position of teachers working for supply teacher agencies is less beneficial. Currently, these supply staff have no employment protection because they are not employed by the end-user (the school or college where they work). Their placement can be terminated, often on 24 hours' notice, with no right of challenge or redress.

Secondly, not being employees, they have no rights of equal treatment as to terms and conditions in comparison with their colleagues in the workplace, unless they have been employed by the same employer for twelve weeks.

Supply teachers employed through an agency can not join the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

Pay and pensions

The basis for the payment of a supply teacher (other than for teachers engaged by an agency) should be the correct point on the relevant national salary scales. This is determined in the same way as for all other teachers, and supply teachers employed in this way have the same access to allowances, such as SEN allowances, threshold progression and the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

Supply teachers employed by an agency (not by the LA or school) are not covered by the provisions of these pay and conditions agreements. The agency will determine the pay rate for these teachers.

Supply teachers and the National Agreement

The national agreement emphasises the important role of supply teachers and the unique value of their contribution. The agreement created two new posts to cover short-term absences (as opposed to more long-term periods such as maternity cover): cover supervisor and higher level teaching assistant.

Only short-term cover is open for the extended roles, which the agreement says 'should not be used as the remedy for the medium or long-term absence of a qualified teacher'.

ATL continues to urge the Government to bring pressure on local authorities to re-establish pools of supply teachers available to schools with some of these being employed on a proper contractual basis.

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See also