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Academy transfer: Understanding which rights transfer

Know your contractual rights so that you can ensure they transfer to any new employer.

During the information and consultation process you should discuss with your colleagues and your branch secretary or NEU contact which contractual rights members enjoyed before transfer so that you know which will transfer to the new employer. In this way you can stay vigilant for any proposed changes.

The terms of every teacher’s contract with the current employer, and all collective agreements between the current employer and the NEU, transfer to the new employer.

The terms of members’ contracts come from a number of sources.

  • For teachers and head teachers in maintained schools in England and Wales – the national terms on pay and working time contained within the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD). The teacher associations and local authority employers have also agreed nationally applicable terms on sick pay and maternity leave and pay. These are set out in the Burgundy Book.
  • Teachers working in a sixth from college may have contractual entitlements under the Red Book teaching staff conditions of service.
  • Support staff may be covered by the Green Book collectively agreement for the local authority.
  • These benefits are often supplemented by local agreements with individual employers or schools. Your local NEU may have negotiated enhanced maternity leave and pay, or additional benefits such as time off for religious observance, or disability leave.
  • Over the last few years the education unions have negotiated a number of additional agreements with some of the multi-academy trusts (MATs). Your branch secretary or NEU colleague who is responsible for the particular MAT will be able to direct you to the relevant agreements and policies.
  • Finally, members may also have individual, contractual agreements such as a job share arrangement, a flexible working agreement or arrangements for reduced hours or adjusted duties.

Individual rights transfer

Terms in collective agreements which give individual rights will normally be incorporated into individual teachers’ contracts, such as the right to paid time off to accompany an expectant mother to an antenatal appointment. Where a term is incorporated into an individual member’s contract, the term will transfer and the member will be able to enforce that right against the new employer.

Academy transfer model contract paragraphs

The aim of these model policy paragraphs on academy transfers is to provide a framework that schools can adopt to ensure full clarity over contractual terms pre- and post-transfer.

Collective rights transfer

Terms in agreed school or college policies and procedures, such as equality policies, are not usually incorporated as “terms” in individual contracts. Nevertheless, TUPE also provides that these agreements transfer across as if they had originally been made with the new employer. The Union can use the strength of its members to protect these agreements after a transfer. As these policies and procedures can be very important to working conditions, it is crucial that you ensure the new employer is aware that they will transfer from the current employer. 

Trade union recognition also transfers

“Recognition” is the name given to the arrangements between employers and the NEU for meeting and negotiating on teachers’ pay and other terms and conditions. Trade union recognition is also a form of collective agreement that transfers to the new employer and it is critical that the current employer and the new employer both acknowledge this. Get in touch with your branch secretary or your NEU contact immediately if either employer indicates that they do not recognise the NEU, or if you can’t locate the details of the recognition agreement.

If you are in a sixth form college, ask your college to agree to the basic recognition agreement before the transfer:

It is likely that any pre-transfer agreement will need some amendment for the new academy conditions. The TUC unions have agreed a “model agreement” for this very purpose. The model may be used to build upon existing recognition arrangements, in particular to establish formal procedures for negotiation and consultation meetings between the new employer and the recognised unions, and to secure facilities for trade union representatives to support and represent members.

The content of the model agreement is covered in this document:

Recognition model agreement for academies

The aim of this model agreement is to establish formal procedures for consultation and negotiation between academy trusts and unions, and to secure facilities for trade union representatives.

Where a school or college becomes a sponsored academy or joins a multi-academy trust the new employer may propose revisions to the recognition and bargaining arrangements. It is important that these arrangements are discussed and settled as far as possible before the transfer.


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