The NEU does not endorse supply agencies - the agency system drains public money from the education service while driving down pay. The union is pursuing an active Alternatives to Agencies (A2A) campaign. Given that so many educators continue to be required to obtain much of their work via agencies, the NEU offers this advice to help you secure the best deal from agency employment.
Know your worth and don’t accept work at any price
Decide what your minimum rate will be and don’t go below it easily. There is obviously a risk that the agency will look to others when work becomes available, but if you want to establish a minimum rate you will have to stick to your guns. You don’t have to accept whatever the agency initially offers to pay you.
Know the current statutory daily rates for supply teachers directly engaged by schools. Agencies are rarely willing to pay that much for teaching work – but those rates are a key point of reference.
Know how much you were being paid each day in your last regular post – keep your payslips for whenever you become entitled to additional pay under the Agency Worker Regulations.
Back up your case. Make sure the agency understands your experience and what you offer. Agencies want schools to be repeat customers – and that is prompted by schools being happy with the staff they provide.
Make the most of your qualifications and specialism. The NEU does not support subject-based pay generally, but you can expect to be paid more in some subjects, roles and settings.
Make sure you know the expectations and responsibilities attached to each placement, especially for longer term ones. If, for example, you will be expected to undertake planning, marking, recording and reporting work as well as pastoral duties not required in truly casual supply work, that increased time and responsibility should be reflected in what you are paid.
Be prepared not to work with agencies that will not pay you what you are worth – that will be better for you and others in the long run.