The 10 legal enquiries most asked by school support staff
1. What happens if a child or parent makes an allegation against me?
Depending on the severity of the allegation, you may be suspended on full pay straight away, pending a full investigation of the incident by the Head Teacher. The Child Protection Agency is informed at this stage. If you are invited to attend the police station, you should always contact GMB to ensure a solicitor is available to accompany you. Following this interview, criminal charges may be brought against you. You are still liable to face the internal disciplinary procedure and again you should contact GMB for representation. Legal services provided at the police station are available to GMB members free of charge.
2. Can my employer change my contracted hours without any agreement?
Your employer can lawfully change your contracted hours if proper contractual notice is given. The employer would be expected to consult you on a proposed variation of hours (check local agreements).
3. If my children are ill and I need to take time off from work, what are my rights?
You have the right to reasonable time off work to help people, such as your children, who depend on you for assistance in an emergency. There is no set limit on how much time off can be taken, but you can only take the time necessary to sort out the immediate problem. This time off does not have to be paid by the employer (check local agreements, some LEA’s do give special paid leave in these circumstances).
4. If I want to change my hours due to parental responsibilities, what are my rights?
If your child is under six or is disabled and under 18, you have the right to ask your employer to consider flexible working, which could include changing your hours of work. If that request is denied, contact GMB.
5. Can I claim benefits while not receiving wages during school holidays?
You are not unemployed during school holidays and therefore cannot claim job seekers allowance unless you work less than 16 hours a week.
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6. I work school hours. Am I entitled to a paid break?
You are entitled to a rest break where your daily working time is more than six hours. The rest break should be for an uninterrupted period of not less than 20 minutes and you will be entitled to spend that break away from your workstation. Unless otherwise stated in your contract of employment, there is no requirement for your employer to pay you for this break or to count it towards your working day (check local agreements).
7. Is my employment continuous if I move schools within the same authority?
If your employer is the Local Education Authority (LEA), your employment is continuous if you move to another school within the area of the LEA.
8. I have been employed for three years on a fixed term contract. Am I entitled to redundancy when my contract ends?
If you have at least two years’ service and are between 19 and 65 years old, you are entitled to a redundancy payment.
9. When I am asked to supervise a group of children on a school trip, am I covered for insurance purposes if a child is injured and I am blamed?
As long as you attend the trip as part of your employment duties, then your employer’s insurance or self-insurance arrangements would cover you for any claim made by a child who was injured on the trip. The only circumstances in which you might not be covered, would be if the accident happened when you were doing something that was clearly not part of the employment duties or, if you were doing something that was of your employment duties but that you carried out in an unauthorised way.
10. What is the status of fixed-term/temporary contracts?
A fixed-term contract is just as binding and enforceable as any other contract of employment. The terms are agreed between the parties and cannot be lawfully varied without further agreement. “Temporary” is not a term recognised in employment law, the employment contract is either open ended or for a specific limited duration of time or for a specific event/period of work. If you have had a series of fixed term contracts that have run back-to-back for four years since at least July 2008 with the same employer (LEA), then under the Fixed Term Regulations, you are entitled to a permanent contract of employment.
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Posted: 24th August 2016