British teachers in Europe win High Court rights battle

18th December 2009 at 00:00

A group of British teachers working in a unique group of overseas schools has won a High Court battle to have the same rights as staff in UK schools.

More than 150 teachers working in 14 "European schools", which educate the children of European officials, will now be allowed to bring claims for wrongful or unfair dismissal at English tribunals.

The teachers, who are employed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families on a series of fixed-term contracts, will also have the same rights as permanently employed workers once they have worked for four years or more.

The case is important because a bizarre rule relating only to European schools means teachers are automatically dismissed from their jobs after nine years, with no way of appealing.

The teachers work in 14 schools in seven European countries, educating 20,000 pupils.

The action was supported by the teaching unions the NASUWT and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, said: "This groundbreaking judgment shows the Government's approach to employing teachers abroad is legally flawed."

Simon Henthorn, senior associate at solicitors Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, who acted in the case, said: "The teachers will now be able to bring a claim in the English tribunals for unfair dismissal as well as wrongful dismissal on expiry of their employment.

"They will now have an effective remedy available to vindicate their rights derived from EC law."

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