A contract of employment sets out your terms and conditions of employment. Whilst a contract can be agreed verbally you are entitled to receive a written ‘statement of particulars’ that provides specific information such as your rate of pay and working hours, entitlements to sick pay etc.
In the education sector, you’re more likely to find your statement of particulars or terms and conditions set out in your letter of appointment. The letter of appointment often refers to other national or locally-agreed terms and conditions.
NEU red lines
- All workers must receive a statement of particulars no later than the first day in a job. If you have not received it, you should request it from your line manager or head teacher. If you are experiencing difficulties getting a copy of your contract let your branch or district secretary know.
- The statement of particulars should state the title of your post and include a brief description of the work for which you are employed.
- You should receive a job description that outlines your role and duties as this will help clarify the tasks you should undertake and define your pay entitlement and workload.
Until the introduction of academies, almost all teachers in state-funded schools had their terms and conditions governed by the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), which applies in England and has statutory effect. For Wales, see School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions (Wales).
In addition to the STPCD, the teaching unions have negotiated a collective agreement for LA-maintained schools in England and Wales, known informally as ‘the Burgundy Book’ (‘conditions of service for school teachers in England and Wales). This contains provisions for notice periods, enhanced maternity leave and contractual sick pay etc, and is incorporated into the contracts of teachers in community, voluntary controlled, voluntary aided and trust schools. Your contract of employment will usually refer to your employment being subject to both the STPCD and the Burgundy Book if you work in these settings.
Academies, free schools and independent schools are not legally required to employ newly recruited teachers on these terms. Any teacher who has been transferred from a community school into an academy will have their STPCD and Burgundy Book terms and conditions legally protected on transfer. The NEU campaigns in those schools for the adoption of the same provisions and many Academy Trusts have voluntarily opted into the terms.
Until the introduction of academies, all teachers in state-funded schools had their terms and conditions governed by the school teachers’ pay and conditions document (STPCD), which applies in England and has statutory effect. For Wales, see School teachers’ pay and conditions (Wales).
In addition to the STPCD, the teaching unions have negotiated a collective agreement for LA-maintained schools in England and Wales, known as the Burgundy Book. This contains provisions for enhanced maternity leave and sick pay etc, and applies in community, voluntary controlled, voluntary aided and trust schools.
Academies, free schools and independent schools are not legally required to employ teachers on these terms. The NEU campaigns in those schools for the adoption of the same provisions and many have voluntarily opted into the terms. Any teacher who has been transferred from a community school into an academy will have their STPCD terms and conditions legally protected.
As with schools in the independent sector, sixth form colleges are not legally required to employ teachers on STPCD and Burgundy Book terms and conditions, although some do.
Most teachers in the sixth form college sector are subject to the Teaching staff: conditions of service handbook, commonly known as the Red Book, which has similar, although not identical, terms to those in the STPCD and Burgundy Book.
Directly engaged supply workers are entitled to receive a written statement of particulars from their employer. A supply teacher who is employed directly to work in a maintained school will have the STPCD and relevant Burgundy Book provisions incorporated into their contract.
Supply workers who are engaged by agencies are entitled to receive a written statement of particulars from their agency. Agency workers are also entitled to a separate key information document that sets out whether they will be employed by the agency under a contract of service or a contract for services; the identity of the agency; pay information and the nature of any costs and deductions from pay, among other information. They will also be provided with assignment agreements which set out the specifics of the assignment, for example whether the role is a teaching role, the location of the work and the likely duration of the assignment.
Most teachers will receive a letter of appointment when they are appointed to a new post. Often this will refer to any specific terms and conditions which are contained in a separate document (e.g. the Burgundy Book or staff handbook), but in some cases the letter itself will constitute your contract in full if it contains all the terms required of a statement of particulars.
Your school or college should allow you access to copies of documents referred to, e.g. the STPCD and Burgundy Book and any local policies that apply to your employment, e.g. pay policy, maternity policy..
Your employer is legally obliged to provide you with a document setting out in full your terms and conditions of employment no later than the first day of your employment, but not before you have accepted an offer of employment. You are clearly at a disadvantage if you are offered a job without knowing whether your prospective employer will offer the same or similar terms as your existing employer.
If you feel you have not been provided with sufficient information you can see/adapt the model letter at the end of this briefing to request more information before you accept an offer of employment.
If you work in a community or voluntary controlled school, the local authority will be your employer although the school’s governing body will have some delegated powers relating to appointment, suspension, discipline, and dismissal. If you work in a voluntary aided school or foundation school your employer will be the governing body. If you work in a sixth form college the employer will be the statutory corporation (unless it is a sixth form which has been taken into a Multi-Academy Trust.)
In an Academy school, you will be employed by the Academy Trust or Multi-Academy Company. In an independent school, the proprietor, trust or foundation is likely to be your employer.
Your contract should clearly state who your employer is, along with the start date of your employment with this employer (including any previous employment that counts towards your continuity of service for both employment protection and redundancy purposes, as these can be different.).