Temporary contract-mat leave?

(23 Posts)
Ella1980 Mon 29-Jul-19 00:22:25

Advice much appreciated!

Although a qualified teacher, I started working as a SEN TA at a primary school in April on a fixed-term contract until end August. Loving it, loving the reduction in stress!!

Head said she would very much like to keep me on and has offered a pay rise to HLTA level and a new temporary
contract with more responsibility (which I'm happy to accept). No end date specified.

Issue is, fiancé and I are now (due to a bit of a change in circumstances) considering a pregnancy. We've discussed with our GP and his advice is not to wait if we are serious because I'm 39 in November.

My question is, if I was to fall pregnant, can my employer just end my contract? What would my rights be?

OP’s posts: |
MoreSlidingDoors Mon 29-Jul-19 00:33:07

Until you have 2 years continual service you can be sacked for any non-discriminatory reason without protection. Sacking for pregnancy would automatically be discriminatory, but they could sack you for many many other reasons.

A contract without an end date can’t really be temporary, by the way. Unless it’s for delivery of a project, but even then they would usually give an expected end date.

Ella1980 Mon 29-Jul-19 00:35:48

Well basically we'll be up the financial poop then as we haven't got the luxury of waiting two years before trying!!!! 😢

OP’s posts: |
flowery Mon 29-Jul-19 07:58:46

”My question is, if I was to fall pregnant, can my employer just end my contract?”

No, and that would be fairly blatant discrimination.

A temporary contract needs some indication of when it will end, by the way. Either a date, or in x months, or when x event happens, something. A completely open-ended contract isn’t temporary.

RainMinusBow Wed 31-Jul-19 14:01:48

It doesn't state an end date, just says temporary contract?

MoreSlidingDoors Wed 31-Jul-19 14:07:08

It’s not legally temporary without an end date.

flowery Wed 31-Jul-19 14:11:05

It's not temporary then. A temporary contract needs an end date, or needs to say (for example) that it will terminate when person you are covering for returns from maternity leave, or when x funding stops, or whatever.

It doesn't matter. What matters is continuity of service, for various rights, and actually for protection from pregnancy discrimination you don't need any length of service at all.

As there is no end date or other circumstances specified which will cause the contract to end, that means she doesn't have any extra flexibility or rights or fewer obligations or anything. Otherwise every employer would just label any contract as being 'temporary'.


TheNightof1000Fans Wed 31-Jul-19 14:21:34

As a teacher, don't you have continuous service??

flowery Wed 31-Jul-19 14:41:05

”As a teacher, don't you have continuous service??”

OP doesn’t say anything to suggest she was employed by the same school/same local authority as a teacher and simply transferred in April to her role as TA at this particular school. That might be the case obviously, but that wouldn’t change anything about whether it would be ok for the current employer to terminate employment because of a pregnancy- that would be automatically unfair dismissal regardless of length of service.

RainMinusBow Wed 31-Jul-19 14:59:32

But couldn't Head just say...well there's no end date specified so your contract will end on ****? Esp if she knew I was pg? I miscarried recently (complete shock as on pill) but luckily just carried on working whilst it was happening as don't want employer to even suspect I'd be considering a pregnancy.

flowery Wed 31-Jul-19 15:26:37

With at least two years' service, the HT couldn't just say that, no. He/she would need a fair reason for dismissal, and would need to have followed a fair procedure.

With less than two years' service, HT could terminate at any time by giving notice in accordance with the contract (obviously teachers' contracts usually require notice to be given at set times). Unless the reason for termination is discriminatory (or for a few other automatically unfair reasons). From day one, if someone's employment is terminated because of a pregnancy when it would otherwise not have been, that is automatically unfair dismissal.

Whether the contract is labelled as being 'temporary' makes no difference to any of the above at all.

RainMinusBow Wed 31-Jul-19 15:32:14

I've only been in this HLTA role since April. So I guess she's just end the contract and dress it up as no money in budget etc...

So I guess I need to go back on the pill and hope it doesn't fail this time!! OH will have to put up with no kids of his own love him.

flowery Wed 31-Jul-19 15:37:09

"So I guess she's just end the contract and dress it up as no money in budget etc..."

Doesn't work like that. If you tell her you're pregnant and then all of a sudden there's no money in the budget for a contract she was perfectly happy to go ahead with, that's fairly clearly discriminatory. And in schools, budgets are done for the academic year, so unless you announce pregnancy just when budgets are being done for September 2020-2021 year, and suddenly there's no money, it's very difficult for her to suddenly not be able to afford a role she was perfectly happy to plan in.

If you want to get pregnant, don't let this stop you. Terminating because of a pregnancy would be unlawful, regardless of how long you've been employed, or whether the word 'temporary' is written on your contract. You have exactly the same rights as someone who's been there longer or doesn't have the word temporary written on their contract - you are in no worse a position than anyone else, so there's no reason to change your plans.

RainMinusBow Wed 31-Jul-19 15:45:26

Thank you sooooo much for your advice. It's just that people have said being on a temporary contract is not a good idea if considering a pregnancy. We couldn't really get by financially on OH salary alone. We're not in a position to wait as I'm almost 39 so think we'll just have to accept that OH will never become a biological daddy 😢

flowery Wed 31-Jul-19 16:18:47

You’re not on a temporary contract OP. You are in the same position as anyone else. You’ll get good maternity pay, assuming you are on standard Green Book terms for TAs.

Forgive me, but it sounds as though you might be hanging on to this as a possible excuse not to try? If I'm wrong I apologise, but it does seem rather tenuous to give up on having kids at all just in case your HT might discriminate against you?

plasterboots Wed 31-Jul-19 16:21:33

Namechange fail?

TheNightof1000Fans Wed 31-Jul-19 17:03:53

OP - you need to learn what continuous service is!!!

RainMinusBow Wed 31-Jul-19 17:16:46

To clarify...I was taken on in a new school in April on a fixed-term temporary contract, end date Aug 2019. However, Head has offered new temporary contract but not specified leaving date. It reads:

As from 1.9.19 your contract is as follows:
Contract: Temporary
Hours: 32.5 pw
Days: Monday-Friday
Salary: Actual £15189.35 (before deductions)

No end date mentioned.

I cannot afford to fall pg and then be told I haven't got a job to go back to. My OH only comes out with about £1,500 per month so we couldn't live off just one salary.

flowery Wed 31-Jul-19 18:00:00

I’m not sure I can say any clearer than I already have that that isn’t a temporary contract! To be temporary it needs an end date or an end event. Simple. And it makes no difference to your rights anyway.

Your HT would be completely insane to suddenly terminate your employment just because you announce a pregnancy.

You are in the same position as anyone else thinking of trying for a baby. You have a job, with good maternity pay. There’s no end date/event for that job. That doesn’t mean you are completely immune to changes that would have happened anyway. Education funding is obviously problematic so it’s not outside the realms of possibility that, say, next academic year, HT might decide she can’t afford as many TAs. But that doesn’t mean she can sack you. She’d have to make a fair decision and look at all TAs and come up with a process.

Obviously sometimes women get discriminated against because of pregnancy. It happens. But you are no more at risk than anyone else, and in a school they are very used to staff going off on maternity leave. It’s not like you work in a very traditional male-dominated environment where it’s never happened before.

There’s no reason to think you are more likely to be discriminated against that anyone else, and if no one ever had kids in case their boss discriminated, the population would be rapidly declining!

There’s always a risk. But one word in your contract doesn’t mean the risk is higher for you.

RainMinusBow Wed 31-Jul-19 18:47:11

@flowery Thank you very much for explaining, good to know that she couldn't just dismiss me (pregnant or otherwise).

I have come to the conclusion that still any pay I would be receiving plus OH pay is going to be nowhere near being able to afford a child together. I feel devastated (esp at my age) but I have to be practical.

Pill is unreliable as I've proven so realistically our only option is going to be sterilisation. Scary but can't see any other way!

TheNightof1000Fans Thu 01-Aug-19 00:13:15

Why don’t you go back to being a teacher for a year, purely to get the maternity pay?

Brain06626 Thu 01-Aug-19 03:10:38

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

RainMinusBow Thu 01-Aug-19 09:44:36

@TheNightof1000Fans Teaching jobs are currently very difficult for experienced teachers to get with the education budgets the way they are currently. Most Heads are having to employ NQT'S/few years in/HLTA's.

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