HR in the education sector

Teachers and lecturers don’t always welcome HR into the staffroom with open arms.

As the HR director of Oxford University put it, they tend be more independent than most, and don’t often think of themselves as a resource.

But whether you’re in charge of a primary school or a university, your reputation depends on the quality of your staff.

In an ideal world, you’d spend all your time attracting the best teachers you can find. But at the same time, you also need to juggle other issues:

  • Making sure all your candidates’ experience and qualifications are accurate.
  • Staying in line with regulations—not just those related to education, but also health & safety and employment law.
  • Keeping hold of your star teachers—have your rivals ever lured them away with offers of higher pay and better conditions?

You don’t have to deal with all these problems alone.

We already support 988 educational institutions across the country with their HR, employment law and health & safety needs.

Situations where Peninsula can help

Our clients in the education sector use our 24/7 helpline to get answers to their HR, employment law and health & safety questions. We solve most cases within 24 hours.

Here are some of the issues we’ve helped resolve:

  • I have an employee on a fixed-term contract but I want to end it early. Can I do this?

    In most cases, you can end a fixed-term contract early.

    But because this counts as a dismissal, you need to have a good reason to let the employee go, and then follow the proper procedures. If you don’t, an employment tribunal might class the dismissal as unfair.

    We can help you draft watertight contracts that remove any uncertainty for both you and your staff.

  • We offered a job to a candidate, but then got a negative reference from their previous employer. What should we do now?

    It depends on what kind of offer you made.

    If you offered them the job on condition that you received positive references, then you can withdraw the offer.

    If you made them an unconditional offer and they accepted, you’ll have to give notice to the employee. This will be the notice period outlined in their contract of employment or, if you didn’t specify this, a reasonable amount of time.

    If the candidate makes a claim of discrimination or unfair dismissal, we can support you with tribunal representation and insurance.

  • We need to make redundancies because of budget cuts. How do we start the process?

    First, consider whether there’s anything you can do to avoid redundancies.

    For example—could you reduce overtime, or put employees in different roles?

    If you have no other option, you’ll need to identify which roles will be affected. Then, start a consultation process—tell your employees why you’re making their jobs redundant, and give them the chance to suggest alternatives.

    Redundancy can be complicated, but we can help guide you through it so you don’t end up breaking the law.

  • A teacher has left before the end of her notice. Can I do anything about this?

    Because the teacher left you in the lurch, you may be able to take the extra cost of a short-term replacement out of her final wage.

    You could also refuse to give a reference, or if you do give one—include the fact she left you without working all her notice.

    If the teacher takes you to a tribunal because you deducted her pay, we can provide tribunal representation and insurance.

Real-life cases

Court rules teacher’s suspension to be unfair

A school received reports that one of its teachers had used too much force to control two teenage pupils with severe learning difficulties. This happened three times.

The school had investigated the first two allegations and found no evidence.

After the third incident, the school suspended the teacher with full pay so they could carry out another investigation. The suspension letter stated that this wasn’t a punishment and wouldn’t reflect badly on her.

The teacher then resigned and made a claim that the suspension breached her contract of employment.

The High Court found that by suspending her without looking at alternatives or getting her version of events, the school had broken the mutual trust they were meant to share with the teacher.

The court also noted that the suspension was a punishment because it meant that she couldn’t go to work, and also damaged her reputation.

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