Term-time only working and contracts

Thursday September 16, 2021

Did you know that term-time only working isn’t just for educational establishments?

Term-time only working is a type of flexible working that, if suitable for a business, can widen its prospective pool of talent.

As the name suggests, an employee on a term-time only contract will work during the school term and be off during the school holidays. This means that it may be an appealing ​option for working parents employed by any business. ​Additionally, it can be beneficial for a business if quiet periods coincide with the school holidays and there is less demand for work.

It’s not unusual for an existing employee to request term-time working when their children reach school age. So as the kids head back to school, it’s a good time to be in the know about term-time only contracts, and whether they can work for your business.

Important considerations for term-time working

The terms of any working arrangement should be detailed in an employment contract, as this sets clear expectations and protects those entering the agreement.

A term-time only employee will require a specific contract that details their working hours, holiday allowance, salary, and other important information that applies to them.

Beyond the essential HR admin, there are other considerations before integrating term-time only working into your business.

For example, if term-time only employees are absent at certain times of the year, how might this impact work for those who are working all year round? From communication between team members, to rules on when employees can take annual leave, a birds-eye view of business operations is crucial to understand any potential impact, and if a workaround can be found.

Next, have a think about how you can maintain an inclusive company culture when staff are working to different schedules. This could require training and development to be applied in stages, important business updates to be accessible anywhere via HR software, or work socials to be timed accordingly.

Inclusivity can fuel a happy and productive workforce and increase staff retention; so whether you’re managing a hybrid team or juggling a mixture of working arrangements, it’s worthwhile having a strategy.

Holiday calculations and a case to watch

Holiday calculations can be puzzling at the best of times, and this doesn’t get any less confusing when you employ term-time only employees.

Under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000, employers need to make sure that the paid holiday allowance for their term-time employees is not less favourable than that of their full-time staff.

Calculating holiday pay can become particularly confusing when dealing with a term-time employee working irregular hours. Such has been the case in The Harpur Trust v Brazel, a notable employment tribunal which has raised questions around the fairness of using the Acas-advised 12.07% holiday pay calculation for those working irregular hours.

In this case, The Court of Appeal ruled that a permanent employee working part of the year is entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday in line with the Working Time Regulations.

The case is scheduled to appear at The Supreme Court this winter. If the current ruling gets overturned, pro-rating 5.6 weeks holiday for those working part of the year could be reinstated.

Handling flexible requests

Flexible working is fast becoming a desirable employee benefit and employers may find that it’s not only working parents requesting term-time only contracts or similar arrangements. Anyone with over 26 weeks employment can submit a flexible working request.

By law, ​formal requests for flexible working must be thoroughly considered and employers need to follow a process when responding.

There can be benefits to both the business and the employee, but all requests must consider the needs of the business.

If you need advice on responding to flexible working requests or integrating term-time only contracts into your business, remember that we are here to help.

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