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Striking teachers: How much pay can you deduct?

This was a question answered by the Supreme Court in the recent case of Hartley v King Edward VI College.

In this case, the teachers of a sixth form college participated in a full day of lawful strike action. The collective agreement (the Red Book) which was incorporated into their contracts of employment confirmed that where lawful strike action took place, deductions could be made from their pay. The College deducted pay at a rate of 1/260ths of their salary for each day of strike. The Teachers claimed that this was too much and alleged that the lower amount of 1/365ths of their salary should be withheld. The court agreed with the Teachers. 

Whilst the Court acknowledged that the Red Book stated that the Teachers were required to work up to 195 days a year of “directed time”, it also required them to work an unspecified amount of undirected time and the Court accepted that they regularly did so, working on evenings, weekends and outside of the academic calendar. It was also noted that the Teachers received an annual salary, paid monthly.

The Court confirmed that where, as with these Teachers, an employment contract is an annual contract, their salary must be apportioned on a daily basis over 365 days, hence a daily figure of 1/365, and not with reference to only working days. If the employment contract was other than an annual contract, then the rate would no doubt be different.

The same principle applies to Teachers at schools other than sixth form colleges. Indeed the Burgundy Book expressly states that where a teacher participates in strike action, 1/365ths of their pay can be deducted for each striking day.

If you wish to find out more or speak to one of the Employment Team, please call 0113 220 6270 or join us at our 2017 Education Conference.

About the Author

Annie Gray

Associate

Primarily acting for employers and senior executives, Annie advise PLC's, private limited companies,…

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