Helpline

26th April 1996 at 01:00
Q

I was employed for four consecutive years in a grant-maintained school on fixed-term part-time contracts. Last summer, the school changed the post to full-time, advertised and appointed a newly-qualified teacher. I was an unsuccessful applicant and lost my job. Was I unfairly dismissed and should I have received redundancy pay?

A

On the face of it, you have been treated wrongly and you have a strong case at least for redundancy pay. I recommend that you consult your union or a solicitor.

Although your contracts were renewed year on year, your continuity of service over four years gave you employment rights, which the governing body of the school appear to have ignored.

They were entitled to decide that the school required a full-time post, rather than a part-time one and they might, in those circumstances, have declared you, as the part-timer, redundant.

But to do that, they must have assumed that you were either not available or not suitable for the full-time post, the latter being based on the qualifications and experience required to meet the needs of the expanded post.

The governors did not get round the latter point by allowing you to apply for the post and then not appointing you. If they believed that you were not suitable, they should have made you redundant in the first place.

If you were suitable, they should have offered you the job, as an alternative to redundancy. Their failure to do either appears to give you a strong case against them.

Q

How do you go about seeking retirement from teaching on grounds of ill-health? Do you have to be absent from work for a prolonged period?

A

An application for retirement on grounds of ill-health is made to the Teachers' Pension Agency by the employer and must be accompanied by medical evidence provided by your doctor, who must be satisfied that you are not fit to continue work.

First, discuss the matter with your doctor to ascertain whether he or she believes that your health is such that it allows them to provide the report. In the case of physical conditions, this may be straight-forward.

In cases of mental illness and stress, where physical consequences are not obvious, it may be more difficult.

If the doctor supports the application, you should then discuss the matter with your employer. For a teacher, this would be the head, for the head it would the chairman of governors or a local education authority officer. A union or professional association may be able to offer advice.

The employer will then make a formal application to the TPA, submitting the medical report. The agency may seek a second medical opinion from a practitioner of its choice.

A decision will be made within four to six weeks and, if it is unfavourable, there is a right to appeal.

Questions should be sent to Helpline, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171-782 3200.

e-mail: letters@tes1.demon.co.uk

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