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GMB Birmingham & West Midlands Region

Popular Questions

1. What happens if a child or parent makes an allegation against me?

Depending on the severity of the allegation, you may be suspended on full pay straight away, pending a full investigation of the incident by the Head Teacher. The Child Protection Agency is informed at this stage. If you are invited to attend the police station, you should always contact GMB to ensure a solicitor is available to accompany you. Following this interview, criminal charges may be brought against you. You are still liable to face the internal disciplinary procedure and again you should contact GMB for representation. Legal services provided at the police station are available to GMB members free of charge.

2. Can my employer change my contracted hours without any agreement?

Your employer may be able to lawfully change your contracted hours if proper consultation takes place and contractual notice is given. If you employer does ask you to change your hours contact GMB as soon as possible for further advice before agreeing to any variation of your hours.

3. If my children are ill and I need to take time off from work, what are my rights?

You have the right to reasonable time off work to help people, such as your children, who depend on you for assistance in an emergency. There is no set limit on how much time off can be taken but you can only take the time necessary to sort out the immediate problem. This time off does not have to be paid by the employer (check local agreements, some LEA’s do give special paid leave in these circumstances).

4. If I want to change my hours due to parental or carer responsibilities, what are my rights?

If your child is under 17, or is disabled and under 18, or if you have responsibility for the care of a dependent relative such as your spouse, parent or sibling, you have the right to ask your employer to consider flexible working. This could include changing your hours of work. If that request is refused contact the GMB for further advice and support.

5. Can I claim benefits while not receiving wages during school holidays?

You are not unemployed during school holidays and therefore cannot claim job seekers allowance unless you work less than 16 hours per week.

6. I work school hours. Am I entitled to a paid break?

You are entitled to a rest break where your daily working time is more than six hours. The rest break should be for an uninterrupted period of not less than 20 minutes and you will be entitled to spend that break away from your workstation. Unless otherwise stated in your contract of employment, there is no requirement for your employer to pay you for this break or to count it towards your working day (check local agreements).

7. Is my employment continuous if I move schools within the same authority?

If your employer is the Local Education Authority (LEA), your employment is continuous if you move to another school within the same LEA. Also if your school becomes an academy your continuous service will be preserved even though the academy will be your new employer. Always raise the issue with the new school you are moving to and get a reply in writing. If unsure contact GMB and we will check this for you.

8. I have been employed for three years on a fixed term contract. Am I entitled to redundancy when my contract ends?

If you have at least two years’ service, you will normally be entitled to a redundancy payment. The minimum you will get is ½ a weeks pay for each full year that you were under 22, 1 weeks pay for each year that you were 22 or older but less than 41, and 1½ weeks pay for 41 years old and older.

9. When I am asked to supervise a group of children on a school trip, am I covered for insurance purposes if a child is injured and I am blamed?

As long as you attend the trip as part of your employment duties, then your employer’s insurance or self-insurance arrangements would cover you for any claim made by a child who was injured on the trip. The only circumstances in which you might not be covered would be if the accident happened when you were doing something that was clearly not part of the employment duties or if you were doing something that was part of your employment duties but that you carried out in an unauthorised way.

10. What is the status of fixed-term/temporary contracts?

A fixed-term contract is just as binding and enforceable as any other contract of employment. The terms are agreed between the parties and cannot be lawfully varied without further agreement. “Temporary” is not a term recognised in employment law, the employment contract is either open ended or for a specific limited duration of time or for a specific event/period of work. If you have worked under a fixed term contract with the same employer which has been renewed for a total period of 4 years, then under the Fixed Term Workers Regulations, you become a permanent employee from that point on.

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