Advice on a range of issues from pay, terms and conditions, employment rights, health and safety, and pensions.

Your first point of contact for advice and support at work should be your workplace rep. 

AdviceLine FAQ

The 5 most common questions AdviceLine are asked. 

If these do not address your question please review all the advice below. 

If you still need advice, contact AdviceLine.

Maintained (local authority) schools:

Teachers’ national sick pay entitlements, set out in the Burgundy Book, give a sliding scale according to aggregated service as follows:

  • In your first year of teaching you are entitled to full pay for 25 working days and after 4 calendar months you are entitled to 50 working days on half pay.
  • In the second year of teaching you are entitled to full pay for 50 working days and half pay for 50 working days.
  • In the third year of teaching you are entitled to full pay for 75 working days and half pay for 75 working days.
  • In the fourth year and subsequent years of teaching you are entitled to full pay for 100 working days and half pay for 100 working days.

The sick leave entitlement runs from April 1st until March 31st. It should also be noted that the Burgundy Book scheme operates on the basis of working days; holidays and weekends do not count against these entitlements. 

Teachers are required to submit fit notes over holiday periods if they would have been too unwell to attend work.  

Academies, Independent and Free schools:

These schools may set their own sick pay schemes, but a number follow the provisions of the Burgundy Book sick pay scheme.  Any variations will be set out in your contract of employment and should be checked for details.  You should also check your employer’s sick policy.

Teachers’ sick pay 

Maintained (local authority) schools

You must give the following notice in line with the Burgundy Book:

  • 2 months’ notice submitted by 28 February to leave on 30 April
  • 3 months’ notice submitted by 31 May to leave on 31 August
  • 2 months submitted by 31 October to leave on 31 December

You are free to try and negotiate an earlier release date, but this will be at the head’s discretion and they are under no obligation to release you early. 

If you miss the notice deadlines set out above your head may retain you until the next leaving dates set out above. 

If a notice deadline set out above falls in a school holiday you can still email your notice to the head by the required date.

Academies and Free Schools

These are usually the same as maintained schools but check your contract.

Independent schools and colleges

You must give notice as per your contract.  As with maintained schools, you are free to try and negotiate an earlier notice period, but this will be considered at your employer’s discretion. 

Notice periods


Occupational maternity pay

Teachers in maintained schools in England and Wales must be continuously employed for one year and 11 weeks by their expected week of childbirth. This employment does not have to be with the same local authority or maintained school.

Teachers teaching at independent schools or academies in England and Wales should check their contract. Some teachers in academies who have TUPE transferred to the academy will have maintained their continuity of service for maternity.

If you are a teacher in the maintained sector and qualify for occupational maternity pay you will be paid as follows:

• First 4 weeks: full pay inclusive of SMP (if eligible) 

• Next 2 weeks: 90 per cent of salary inclusive of SMP (if eligible) 

• Next 12 weeks: 50 per cent of salary plus SMP (£145.18 per week as at April 2018) 

• Next 8 weeks: SMP (£145.18 per week as at April 2018)

Additional maternity leave of up to a further 26 weeks, 13 of which will be paid at the SMP rate of £145.18 per week, with the remaining 13 weeks unpaid. 

Occupational maternity pay is treated as earnings and you will pay tax, national insurance and pension contributions on it, as appropriate. You will not pay pension contributions unless you are in receipt of at least half pay.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

To qualify for SMP you must have been continuously employed with the same employer for 26 weeks by the qualifying week. The qualifying week is the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth.

If you do not qualify for SMP then you may be entitled to the state benefit Maternity Allowance.

Maternity advice

All timetabled teaching time, PPA, registration, mid-session breaks, trapped time, staff meetings, parents’ evenings, INSET days – it essentially includes all time you are directed to be working in the school except for your lunch break.

After school clubs are voluntary so if you choose to do them they cannot be included in your directed time. 

Directed time

You need to establish what action your employer is going to take.  Your employer has a duty to investigate any allegations they receive. The investigation is a fact-finding exercise to collect all the relevant information about the allegation.  It is likely you will be asked for your version of events at an investigation meeting. 

If you are invited to an investigation meeting there is no statutory right to have representation at an investigation meeting however, some employers will allow you to be accompanied. If allowed, you can ask your workplace NEU school representative or, if there is no rep, a trusted colleague to attend with you. Your rep or colleague cannot speak on your behalf during an investigation meeting. The NEU does not routinely arrange representation at investigation meetings for this reason and because no action can be taken against you at the investigation stage.

Contact the Union if you are suspended or invited to a disciplinary hearing. 

Disciplinary model policy

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