- Posted Monday August 19, 2019
A member of the GP practice staff comes to you with a request to work during term-time only so that they can balance work with caring for their children during the school holidays.
What would be your first step? No one said dealing with HR issues would be easy…
Thankfully, FPM’s HR experts are here to help practice managers with their toughest queries. The latest in our series of handy case studies explains what actions to take in just such a situation.
Under a term-time contract, the employee works only during the periods that coincide with school terms and is not required to work during school holidays. You could simply adapt a standard contract template to cover the following factors…
- State the employee's working arrangements, in particular when they are required to work. Any requirements regarding when they may and may not take annual leave should be clearly specified in the terms and conditions.
There are two options open to you:
- Salary is usually paid in 12 equal monthly instalments (or 52 instalments if paid weekly) and will be based on the number of term-time hours to be worked. Use a pro rata number of instalments if the term-time working arrangement commences partway through the year.
- Alternatively, payment will be based on the number of term-time hours actually worked and will be made (weekly or monthly) during term time only. For the avoidance of doubt, this may result in periods where the employee receives no payment at all. Provision for overtime payments will be made only by agreement.
Employees should note that pay that has been averaged and is paid throughout the year in equal instalments, which may affect the calculation of, and their entitlement to, other benefits.
Ensure annual leave provisions and calculations are detailed in advance to avoid confusion further down the line.
- Employees who work on a term-time basis should agree with the organisation how much unpaid leave from work is required and when this is to be taken, based on factors such as the employee's paid annual leave entitlement, how long the school holidays will be, when the school holidays will occur, and whether or not alternative care arrangements can be made for some of the school holidays.
- Term-time working employees must take their paid annual holiday entitlement during the school holidays and will, in addition to their paid annual holiday entitlement, be entitled to take a maximum of  weeks' unpaid leave per year, on a pro-rata basis.
Training, Performance Assessments and Team Briefings
Consider how you will factor in staff development throughout the year:
- Term-time employees will be required to attend training, performance assessments, team briefings etc. throughout the year. Every effort will be made to schedule mutually convenient dates during term time or to arrange alternative methods of attendance, such as through tele- or video-conferencing.
This may not always be possible however, in which case the organisation will provide adequate notice of dates on which the employee will be required to attend the workplace, enabling the employee to make alternative care arrangements.
Terminating the Term-Time Working Arrangement
Specify how long the arrangement will last, for example:
- As a term-time working arrangement is designed to assist employees with school-age children, its appropriateness will be reviewed annually. It is expected that, once term-time working is no longer required, employees will agree to a revised working arrangement with the organisation.
- Alternatively, the term-time working arrangement will continue until varied or terminated by agreement.
- Any employee who wishes to request a variation to, or termination of, the term-time working arrangement should, in the first instance, put his/her request in writing, stating the revised pattern of working he/she is seeking (i.e. the number of hours or days he/she would propose to work), how long the revised pattern should last and its effective date, and submit the request.
- If an employee's term-time working arrangement has an agreed end date, unless already varied or terminated, the term-time working arrangement will lapse on this end date and the employee will revert to the working pattern that he/she had immediately before the commencement of the term-time working arrangement.
Although normally requested by parents or grandparents caring for children, other staff may request term-time working under the right to request flexible working. Serious consideration must always be given to these requests.
Are you dealing with a tricky HR issue? First Practice Management members can contact FPM for support with their queries via our email helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org