Teachers in small schools in Wales and heads of one-teacher subject departments will be the biggest losers as teaching and learning responsibility points are phased in, headteachers fear.
Drawing up new staff structures to accommodate TLRs - which replace management allowances from January 1 - is proving costly, time-consuming and demoralising, according to heads attending a recent Welsh Secondary Schools' Association (WSSA) meeting.
Several said they were concerned about the effect on small schools, where staff muck in to carry out administrative duties. They are also worried about how they will tell loyal teachers to expect a pay cut and loss of status.
Neil Foden, head of 1,312-pupil Ysgol Friars in Bangor, Gwynedd, branded the new reward system a shambles. He said implementing the new structure would cost his school an extra pound;10,158 next year, rising to pound;17,415 in 2007-8.
He said: "Why reinvent the wheel when the system we have already is working well? And so much for a work and life balance - I am working every weekend on the new structure, only for it to lower standards, cost me more money and upset my staff."
He said standards in specific subject areas could fall if the responsibilities of heads of small departments were transferred to a single head of a larger faculty, as a result of introducing TLRs.
TLR payments will officially replace management allowances in Wales from January 2006. Welsh heads have until March 31 to produce new staff structure plans. In England, these have to be in place by December 31.
Under the new system, teachers will be awarded TLR1 or TLR2 payments, worth between pound;2,250 and pound;11,000, for taking on a responsibility for leading teaching and learning in their school. Present management allowances will be safeguarded for three years from the end of this month.
Delegates attending the WSSA meeting claimed the changes could mean some teachers in smaller schools who have taken on extra admin duties (such as responsibility for the bus run and school buildings) could be in line for a pay cut. However, workload reforms are meant to ensure such jobs are not carried out by teachers. Heads of single-teacher departments in secondary schools could also lose out, as they are merged into another faculty, said delegates.
Kerry George, from the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, claimed teachers who took a small pay cut initially would soon find rewards in the TLR system.
She advised heads to sit down with teachers facing pay cuts before finalising staffing.
She said: "I know of one teacher in England who was told she was going to lose pound;30 every month and threw a fit. However, after learning it would be made up in TLR points after three years she calmed down."
Ms George warned heads to keep their new structures short, flexible and without full job descriptions to avoid challenges. But she noted that some teachers on the upper pay spine are earning more than deputy heads.
Around 70 to 80 per cent of teachers in England and Wales currently receive a management allowance of some kind.
TLRs were proposed by the rewards and incentives group, made up of representatives of the signatories to the 2003 workforce agreement, including unions, employers and governments.