Your questions answered on sickness entitlement, attending meetings about sickness absence, maternity pay, flexible working and allegations against staff members. 

  • What is my sickness entitlement?

    In maintained, or local authority schools, teachers’ national sick pay entitlements are set out in the Burgundy Book. They 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 four 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 1 April until 31 March. The Burgundy Book scheme operates on the basis of working days – holidays and weekends do not count against these entitlements.  

    Academies, independent and free 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 sickness absence policy.

    Read more on sickness entitlement 

  • I have been invited to a meeting to discuss my sickness absence. What should I do?

    In many cases, your employer will invite you to attend a meeting as part of their absence monitoring/management procedures.  This will usually happen when a particular ‘trigger point’ – the number of periods of absence or total days’ absence over a set period – has been reached.

    Most absence monitoring procedures include an informal stage where head teachers offer advice or counselling following concerns about a teacher’s attendance record. A timetable for improvement may be set out.  There is no statutory entitlement to have a union representative at an informal meeting.  However, it is worth checking your sickness absence policy/staff handbook to see if your employer extends the right for you to be accompanied.

    The formal stages of the procedure are likely to commence once a particular trigger point has been reached. A formal interview is likely to be held at which the reasons for absence will be discussed and ways of assisting the teacher’s return to work will be explored. Any period of monitoring, which is established, and date for a further review meeting, should be recorded in writing and a copy given to the teacher.  If you are invited to a formal meeting, please contact the Adviceline to make a referral for representation at this meeting.

    Read more on absence monitoring

  • How much maternity pay am I entitled to?

    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 in order to qualify for occupational maternity pay. This employment does not have to be with the same local authority or maintained school.

    Teachers 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 pay purposes.

    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 (£148.68 per week as at April 2019)

    • Next 8 weeks: SMP (£148.68 per week as at April 2019)

    Additional maternity leave of up to a further 26 weeks, 13 of which will be paid at the SMP rate of £148.68 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. 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 which is the 15th week before your expected childbirth.

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

    Read more on maternity pay

  • Who can make a request for flexible working?

    To qualify for the statutory right to make a request under the flexible working regulations, you must have a contract of employment (agency workers  are unfortunately excluded) and at least 26 weeks continuous service with your current employer. You must not have made another ‘statutory’ request for flexible working within the last 12 months.

  • An allegation has been made against me. What should I do?

    You need to establish what action your employer is going to take.  Your employer has a duty to investigate any allegations it receives.  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 a meeting.

    If you are invited to an investigation meeting, there is no statutory right to have representation. However, you should check whether the disciplinary policy/staff handbook to see if your employer extends the right to be accompanied. Otherwise you can ask your employer for a school representative or a trusted colleague to attend with you.

    More about allegations of abuse

Your first point of contact for advice and support from the union is your National Education Union workplace representative. If there is no representative in your workplace, you should contact your Branch office.

For immediate advice see the help and advice pages, and in the event of no other option, Advice Line.