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Employment Rights for Teachers

Guidance for self-employed, zero-hour and home working teachers.

Last updated: 01 April 2021

Access to Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will depend on your employment status. See the Government website for the latest guidance.

Please contact your regional office or email teachers@themu.org if your education work has been affected and your particular circumstances have not been addressed by the announcements so far.

Self-employed teachers

If you are self-employed and have a contract for services with a school or hub, you may be able to negotiate an alternative means of fulfilling your contract through online teaching.

This will require you to have current safeguardingGDPR and Data Protection policies and procedures in place. 

A contract may be voided when a ‘frustration’ or ‘force majeure’ clause is triggered. In such cases, please contact your regional MU office.

For self-employed teachers who invoice parents directly, the MU has produced a new ‘Contract for Online Teaching.’

Self-employed teachers who have lost income due to Covid-19 may be eligible for the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and you can find the full details on our Government Relief page.

Please note, this package does not apply to people who pay themselves through their own limited companies (see Job Retention Scheme below).

For details on other relevant Government schemes see our Financial Support page.

Zero-hour and employed teachers

The latest advice from the government is that zero-hour contract workers (paid through PAYE) and employed teachers may be entitled to the Job Retention Scheme (JRS).

This is temporary for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020 and relates to furloughed employees (employees on a leave of absence) on any of the following contracts:

  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Employees on agency contracts
  • Employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

The JRS applies to any UK company, charity, recruitment agency and public authority. It also applies to workers paying themselves through their own limited companies.

Furlough removes the option of laying-off staff or making them redundant. The employment contract remains in place.

Employees continuing to work on reduced hours or reduced pay are not eligible for JRS. Employees can take part in volunteer work or training, providing this does not provide services to the company/organisation or generate revenue.

It is the responsibility of the employer to claim back 80% of employees’ salaries from the government, up to a maximum value of £2,500 per month for each employee. Your employer may choose to fund the difference between this payment and your salary but does not have to. If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

For further details, please refer to Job Retention Scheme. Zero-hour pay will be based on average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year or a pro-rata of earnings to date if the employee started in February 2020. During the furlough period, the employee must not do any work for the employer. Teachers working for multiple employers may find themselves furloughed by each employer.

Should you be approached by your employer to consider redundancy, lay-off or any other change to your contractual terms, please contact your regional MU office.