What you Need to Know about Term Time Contracts

A term-time contract is a type of employment contract that specifies that an employee will only work during specific periods, typically corresponding to school or university terms. This means that the employee will have extended periods of time off during school holidays.

Term time contracts are common in industries that cater to students, such as education and hospitality. They can provide a flexible working arrangement for employees who are students themselves, or who have other commitments during the school holidays. 

Term time contracts for parents

Term time contracts can also offer flexibility for parents with children who are currently in education. It means that they can work while the child is in school during the term, and then be available for childcare purposes during the school holidays.

This can mean that individuals who would otherwise be excluded from the workforce are able to find full or part-time employment, an arrangement that also opens up the talent pool for employers.

Why choose a term-time contract?

One of the key advantages of a term-time contract is that it can provide a predictable and stable income for employees. Because the employee knows exactly when they will be working, they can plan their finances and budget accordingly.

Another advantage is that a term-time contract can allow employees to pursue other interests or opportunities during their time off. For example, a teacher on a term time contract may be able to take on additional part-time work during the holidays, or pursue personal projects or hobbies.

Potential issues

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to term-time contracts. One issue is that employees may have difficulty finding other work during their time off or dealing with a term-time working request to begin with in regards to approaching their employer with the request.  

Finding work can also be further complicated if their industry is seasonal or their skills are not in high demand. Naturally, this can lead to financial insecurity and uncertainty. 

Additionally, some employees may find it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance on a term time contract. Because they have extended periods of time off, they may feel pressure to cram a full-time workload into a shorter period of time during term time. This can lead to burnout and reduced job satisfaction, and potentially an increased turnover rate for employers.

Clearly, a term-time contract can be a useful and flexible working arrangement for some employees, but it is important to carefully consider the potential advantages and disadvantages before accepting such a contract.

Whether you’re an employer who’s considering offering a term-time contract to an employee, or an employee who’s considering accepting an offer of a term-time contract, it can be useful to go through the details with a specialist team to ensure that all aspects of the contract are in order. 

As term-time contracts are more complex than ‘normal’ employment contracts, it’s important that they’re drawn up appropriately, to ensure that both sides are fully aware of their contractual obligations.

How do you calculate pay for term time contracts?

The standard method for calculating term time only contracts is to divide the annual salary into 12 monthly installments. The same amount is paid each month regardless of how many hours are worked in that period.

Can I request a term-time contract?

If you have worked for an employer for at least 26 weeks, then you are legally entitled to request flexible working. Term-time only working is recognised as a type of flexible working. Of course, your employer does not necessarily need to accept your request, so it’s up to you to make the case as powerfully as you can.

You should follow the rules set out by the government to make a formal request. Your employer usually has up to three months to respond and if they refuse the request they must give the business reason for doing so. You are also entitled to appeal their decision.

If your type of business is negatively affected by school holidays then you will have a stronger case. However, if you work in an industry that gets busier during school holiday times – such as the tourism and travel trade – then it is probably going to be more difficult to persuade your employer.

Term-time contracts in the NHS

Employers are also more likely to accept your request if there are recruitment issues in their industry. The NHS has become more amenable to term-time contracts due to staffing issues in the health sector. Employers like the NHS are finding that they need to offer more flexible working options to retain highly-trained and experienced staff.

In fact, the right to request flexible working is now available to NHS staff from their first day of employment. The new NHS flexible working agreement also removes limits on the number of requests that staff can make and strengthens the processes employers must use when considering requests.

Wrap up

Term time contracts can be a game changer for working parents and others who perhaps just want to have longer holiday breaks. And while clear processes and contracts are generally in place for the largest employers, like the NHS, it may be more complicated if you work for a small firm.