Contracts: Getting It Right

All employees must have a contract. Find out why we need so many contracts, when and what types of contracts can be issued.

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Why do we need so many types of contracts?

All employees must have a contract. The contract will include a statement of written particulars setting out specific terms of the employment relationship. Yet, with so many different types of contracts, it is easy to get confused. Below, we will give a quick breakdown of contracts to ensure that you stay on the right side of employment law.

When should a new contract be issued?

This may seem like an easy question to answer: when a new employee starts at your school. Of course, this is true, though there are other times when a new contract should be issued to your staff. These include:

  • When an employee starts a new job at your school.
  • When an employee is promoted or is issued a new TLR.
  • When an employee moves from full time to part time (or vice-versa).
  • When a fixed-term contract expires.

Other changes can be made to an existing contract using an amendment letter rather than simply issuing a new one. These include an increase in salary and changes in hours.

What types of contracts can be issued?

There are many different types of contracts, and each contract can be tailored to suit the individual needs of the role in your school. However, contracts typically fall into broad categories, including:


This contract type has no end date.

Fixed-Term Contract (FTC)

Unlike permanent contracts, these will have an end date. It is important to note that you must have a valid reason for using a Fixed-term contract (FTC). These include covering maternity leave, covering absence, the role is associated with specific funding (such as SEN funding) or knowledge of a decline in pupil numbers. If you are ever unsure whether it is appropriate to use an FTC, you should seek HR guidance.

Casual Contracts

Although casual workers are not employees as of April 2019, employers must issue them with a contract/statement of written particular. Casual contracts are used for ad hoc cover or work.

Casual staff have no obligation to accept the hours being offered to them, and in return, you have no obligation to offer them hours. Casual staff can work any number of hours. However, they should not work regular or consistent hours across multiple months. If this is the case, they become employees and should have a permanent or fixed-term contract.

Apprenticeship Contract

Apprentice contracts are tied to the duration of the training course being completed. They guarantee the employee a specific amount of time off to either attend college or perform tasks associated with their qualification.

Once an apprentice qualifies, the contract comes to an end. At this point, your school can consider the role to see if they want a new apprentice in or to offer a more permanent contract to their ex-apprentice.

Staying on the right side of employment law

Contracts are a complicated area of employment law, and as a result, it can be very daunting to issue them. Nonetheless, the terms are generally reasonably standard, and you should be able to have a template with just key information specific to each appointment being added. HR services will be able to supply these. 

Contracts must be accurate and reflect the offer that was made to your new employee. Once committed to writing, you will be legally bound to honour the terms set out in the contract.

Have a clear idea on the contract from the start

Contracts should be thought about when planning a job role. When starting the recruitment process, you should have a clear idea if the post will be permanent or fixed-term and if any specific conditions apply, for example, the requirement to complete statutory induction for teachers or probation. If in doubt, our team of experts is always on hand to help.

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