24th January 2003 at 00:00
A BOY who was to take part in a trip to Germany was permanently excluded for serious misconduct and this was subsequently upheld by an appeals panel.

Naturally, he was not allowed to go on the trip, but the travel company refused to refund the fees, which had already been paid. The parents are demanding a refund. Must the school pay?

I fear you may have to, unless you had thought to include in any agreement with the parents a clause which exempted you from such an obligation.

The parents may argue that they had, in effect, a contract with the school, whereby they paid for the trip, which you undertook to provide.

The school did not fulfil the contract and therefore should refund the money. The travel company has presumably relied on their contract with the school, which stipulated a deadline, after which no refunds were payable.

If the contract was with the parents, rather than the school, the parents may argue that they were prevented from getting what they had paid for by the school's intervention.

It is still hard to see how you would win.

We engaged a teacher 18 months ago to cover a maternity leave. Later, when a second teacher took maternity leave, we retained the same teacher to cover for her.

Are we now committed to keeping this teacher on the permanent staff?

Once someone has served a continuous full year with an employer, he or she acquires full employment rights, regardless of the nature of the original appointment.

This is not to say that this teacher cannot be removed, but it does mean that it can only be done by following the normal redundancy procedure, giving due notice and paying compensation. Remember, also, that the redundancy process requires all employees in the same category to be considered, not just one.

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