Temporary contracts – can I just finish them at the end of the academic year?
There is no such thing as a temporary contract. What most schools are referring to are fixed-term contracts, whereby you have agreed to take on an employee for a fixed period of time (usually from 1 September to 31 August). The most common reasons for a fixed-term contract is usually linked funding or maternity cover, although there are many reasons for having a fixed-term contract in place. You shouldn’t use them to “suss out” an individual as this can create more issues than simply employing the individual on a permanent contract with a probationary period incorporated into their terms and conditions. Please see the below links for further blogs on fixed-term contracts and how to use them.
Before ending a fixed-term contract you need to remember to check / carry out the following actions:
- Check how long the employee has been with you by referring to a copy of their contract;
- Did the employee come from another school? If so they may have continuous service and could argue they are entitled to a redundancy payment in line with the Redundancy Modification Order, particularly if they have more than 2 years’ continuous service;
- Remember that ending a fixed-term contract (regardless of its duration or the employee’s length of service) is still a dismissal. Therefore, you need clear (non-discriminatory) reasons for ending the contract and you should follow a dismissal process;
- For teachers ensure that you have a dismissal meeting before 31 May to give notice that the contract will expire on 31 August;
- A dismissal meeting should always take place to explain that the contract will not be renewed and the reasons why with the opportunity to appeal outlined in the outcome letter;
- If you are going out to recruit for a permanent post, you should advise the employee they can apply for the permanent post;
- If there are any concerns regarding the employee’s performance (during the fixed term contract) you should discuss and address these with the employee, before discussing the non-renewal of the contract;
- Be careful when ending contracts for teaching assistants who provide one to one support. Unless the teaching assistant has provided one to one support for the student for the entire duration of the contract, you may have to consider pooling your teaching assistants, before ending the contract as it may be unfair to simply select the current teaching assistant.
- If you are ending the contract and the employee does have more than 2 years’ service, either with your school or from continuous service, they will be entitled to redundancy pay in line with Redundancy Modification Order.
We appreciate that with the uncertainty of school funding, fixed-term contracts may be an attractive option for schools. However, you must ensure that you track your contracts and make a diary reminder to undertake a dismissal meeting, before the contract expires.
If you have any queries on your fixed-term contracts, please speak to your HR consultant or give one of the FusionHR team a call on 01924 827869.
Other blogs you may want to look at:
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