Schools are Affected by Pay Gap Reporting

Do All Schools Have to Publish Gender Pay Gap Reports?

The recent story of a senior BBC employee resigning because of the inequality of her pay hit the headlines and seems to have reinforced the belief that the need to produce a report you any gender pay gap is only relevant to higher paid employees.  That is a false view as the requirement applies to schools and many other organisations.

If a school employs 250 or more employees then the school is likely to be under a duty to collect and report on its pay data to meet the requirements of the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Regulations.

That applies to all forms of schools as noted below:

  • a)  Local Authority maintaned schools – the Governing Body is responsible for collecting and publishing the required data;
  • b)  Pupil Referral Units – the LA is responsible for collecting and publishing the data;
  • c)  Academies and Free schools are within the scope of the regulations and the proprietor is required to collect and publish the data
  • d)  Independent and private schools have to follow the private sector gender pay reporting regulations – the legal employer is responsible.

For schools, 31st March of each year is the reference date on which the data is based.  Publication fo the ‘analysed’ data must occur within one year of that date.   For schools in d) above the date is 5th April of each year.

First Mandatory Publication Date is in 2018

The first publication date falls in this year so you need to review how prepared you are to produce the required data to publish your school’s report.

The 2018 deadline for publication of your school’s report is 30 March 2018 (for the majority of public sector organisations) and 4 April 2018  for other organisations.

Remember that schools in d) above are also obliged to publish their report albeit by 4th April.

The Peculiar Situation of a School

Calculating the remuneration for the purposes of the regulations is not straight forward for most organisations as specific definitions have to be considered as to how the data is calculated.   Schools, in particular are likely to encounter some issues with the following types of employees and their contracted hours:

  • Term time only employees such as catering staff;
  • Teaching staff subject to minimum contracted annual hours e.g. required to work a minimum of 1,265 hours over 39 weeks as per the full time hours in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document;
  • Head Teachers on an unspecified hours contract i.e. they are required to manage their own working time to fulfil their professional duties.

The task has been made easier by the giving of specific examples for the situations above.  Those examples and the principles can be seen on pages 30 and 31 of the revised booklet produced by ACAS, ‘Managing gender pay reporting’.

Diversity/Equality Reports are Different to Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Do not fall into the mistake of thinking that any diversity or equality data that you have published will suffice.  Such data will not meet the definitions required under the regulations for gender pay gap reports.

Help if Puzzled or Stuck

Where can you go to understand the requirements or seek an answer to a query?
The ACAS booklet is a reasonable source of reference and the related publications of ACAS.  Your HR adviser should also be able to advise you.

If you have a query on the requirements and/or publishing your report, please note that for a short while we shall accept queries, without a charge, if they take a short time to answer.  We will advise you, in advance, if the query will  take too long for this service. Please leave a message about your query by using the ‘chat’ pop up button which will appear on the bottom right hand side of this page.

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The Pressure is On to Address Teachers’ Workload

Why do your teachers work long hours?
Do you know how many hours your teachers work on average per week?

A survey commissioned by the DfE [1] indicates that teachers are working an average of nearly 54 hours a week and senior leaders working around 62 hours a week.  Some must work much longer hours to give such an average.  The report on the survey indicates that there are three main causes: marking, planning and data management.

Head Teachers and Governors Can Address Those Issues

The issue of long working hours is not a recent one but it is accentuated by the shortage of teachers.   The first question above starts with a ‘why?’  because Head Teachers and Governors are in a position to address such issues.as explained in earlier articles on this blog, for example, ‘Pressure on the School v Pressure on the Teacher’. 

The evidence for taking action is growing as are the examples of and ideas for effective action.  The Sources section below cites some articles and further reading.

Governors have a responsibility to support the Head Teacher in tackling the issue rather than content themselves with the view that the problem is beyond them.   New Heads and those parachuted in to a troubled school often place themselves under great pressure to improve results in a few months – that pressure is passed on knowingly or unknowingly to the teaching staff who often face a raft of new initiatives with the result that individuals become tired and anxious and do not think as clearly as they would without such pressures.

Governors have a valuable role in helping the Head and SLT to challenge themselves to weed out any unnecessary demands and administrative tasks that detract from teaching.

Planning for Whose Benefit?

One would think that it was for the benefit of pupils/students but it can be the opposite.  Heads sometimes use it as a means of monitoring their staff but that can lead to time consuming paper plans that do not necessarily translate into improvements in learning outcomes.   A key article in the Guardian [2] gives some different perspectives on planning and a lighter touch approach.

Instances will occur in which teachers need to improve their skills but focusing on paper evidence is more likely to aggravate the problem especially if the individuals are feeling undue pressure.  Cut through the paper plans and help them to see how they can deliver more effective learning in their class situations.  That produces multiple benefits; a more confident teacher; improved learning outcomes; a less stressed individual and a Head/SLT who will benefit from a teacher’s performance which has been turned around.

Peculiar Motivation for School Governors and Heads

Can Governors afford to delay tacking this type of issue?   For many, their motivation would be to produce better learning outcomes. If that is not sufficient then maybe the following will be encouragement to act:

  • Governing Bodies have a legal duty to monitor working hours and to take action if those are unreasonable – see more at Teachers’ Working Hours – Duties of Governors and Head Teachers, 
  • If undue stress is caused to a teacher, that could lead to an expensive unfair dismissal case for the school.  Recently, the compensation rates for injury to feelings, have been increased.  Those are additional to the dismissal award and could add up to £42,000 or more to a claim.  More detail can be seen in the Key HR Facts section of our Personnel Advice website.

Governors and Head Teachers can minimise the chances of finding themselves a party to an expensive personal injury claim for stress or an unfair dismissal claim for undue pressure on a teacher.  How?  Take the positive outcomes road as noted above.

The DfE is also partly serious about the workload and amount of working hours.  It has added advice in the latest Governors’ Handbook and Ofsted has also updated its guidance in order to minimise additional work caused to schools.

Sources:
[1]  Teacher Workload Survey 2016, Research brief, DfE, February 2017.
[2]  Tips to help schools reduce teacher workload by Ruth Stokes, 19 July 2017, The Guardian, Teachers Network.

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Holidays – How Clear Are Your School’s Rules about Absence for Holidays?

During the last few weeks of term, there is the risk that parents may be tempted to take a family holiday because it is affordable compared to the peak Summer holidays period.  Although the Supreme Court has ruled on this, Head Teachers and Governors need to understand the reasoning of the Court and check that their school’s policy is clear.

Uncertainty Created by the Decisions of Lower Courts

When deciding whether a school/local authority had the right to  seek a fine on ra parent for taking their child out of school in term time, the Supreme Court noted, that using the test of ‘sufficiently frequently’ was too uncertain for parents to know whether they were in the right or wrong.  Instead, the Court held that the key was whether the parents had complied with the school policy.

Review the Clarity of Your School’s Absence/Holiday Policy

In the light of the above, you should check that your policy is clear and will be interpreted by parents that absence for holidays duing term time is a breach of the school’s rules and expectations of parents regarding the child’s or student’s attendance.

A reminder each year in January to parents/guaridans may be advisable as that is often when parents start to think about their main holiday.

Some schools may be in communities in which there are a high number of, for example, parents who are hospital doctors.  They are often obliged to take their holidays at the end of their contract and before their next role.  In such cases, the Head and Governors may wish to have some flexibility regarding holidays but that will need careful thought. 

The Court’s Core Reasoning re Attendance at School

The Supreme Court noted that education statutes had regard to the importance of a child’s regular attendance for the sake of his/her education.   A fine and possibly a conviction could arise but a conviction can be avoided if the penalty is paid on time. That may have influenced the decision of the Court to take this firm stance.  

The Balancing Skills of the Head Teacher and Governors

As noted above, the Head Teacher should ensure that:

  • the school’s policy is clear on the issue of taking holidays in school term times;
  • the consistency of any exceptions permitted.

In addition, the school will need to consider its policy on:

  • issuing penalty notices for breaches of its rules/policy.  Currently, the law permits a penalty notice of £60 to be issued.  If that is not paid within 21 days, the penalty increases to £120;
  • requesting prosecution of a parent who breaches the school rules/policy.

The reality is that some parents will feel that the benefit of a family holiday in term time with the cost of a fine is worthwhile compared to the cost of a holiday in the Summer holidays.

Are There Other Solutions?

i)  Should local authorities and academies etc. be given greater freedom to set staggered holiday times across the country to encourage holiday firms to lower their prices?

ii)  In June and July, many schools arrange school trips/holidays for educational purposes.  Should those periods be approved instead as flexiible school holiday weeks in which families can take a holiday  Schools could help to ensure that such holidays with parents are educational by providing ideas to help children/students observe and discover during their holiday experiences – that does not necessarily mean having to visit expensive ‘tourist attractions’.

iii)  Should tourist boards become more pro-active in advertising affordable holiday packages, during school holidays, as it is alleged that guest houses etc. struggle due to the competitive holiday market.

The above will raise logistical issues for schools but those could be reduced if relaxations were made on a county wide basis.  On the other hand, perhaps the taking of holidays in  term time is not a big issue for schools. Do you have a view on this issue – if so leave a polite comment below.

Sources:

Isle of Wight Council v Platt [2017] UKSC 28

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Are Your People Management Practices Effective?

HR Management Tends to be Cautious

HR management policies and practices tend to err on the cautious side when, in reality, managing individuals means taking reasonable risks when, for example, making:

  • selection decisions; The cracks are easy to see as the plant pushes up but less so not so when dealing with indviduals
  • personal development involving the delegation of more responsibility;
  • capability and discipinary decisions.

In the photo, you can see that the growing plant is causing cracks in the asphalt. However, spotting the cracks and decay in personnel management practices is not so easy but it is an issue in many organisations including schools.

Do Your HR Management Practices Reinforce Your Key Goals and Values?

They should but senior managers usually have doubts about whether they are focused appropriately.  Before becoming immersed in another round of hr policy reviews, as the Head Teacher or a School Governor on the Personnel Committee take time to assess whether your hr management practices are effective.

To find out how and to obtain a free assessment tool view this page, ‘Hallmarks of Effective HR Management’ on our main HR Management Dimensions website.

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Pressure on the School v Pressure on the Teacher

Quote

Editor’s Note – Further content added 08/04/2017

There is no doubt that many teachers feel under pressure due to the hours spent on planning, marking, meetings at school, assessments and reviews.  As a consequence, teachers have to carry out work tasks in their ‘leisure time’. For some that leads to long working hours and a detrimental effect on performance.

Are the Head and/or Governors the Cause of Undue Pressure?

Photo of people feeling pressure

Head Teachers are not immune from similar pressures but are some Heads the source of the pressure on their teachers?  “What!” I hear being yelled at the screen as you read that.  Stop for a moment and consider – how many new policies or ideas have you or the School Governors initiated, which were not the result of a Government policy, but perhaps the result of a visit to another school or an idea from a conference?  Continous improvement is an aim that many organisations pursue.  That is not the same as continuous organisational change which some adopt as their organisation’s mantra – such change unless overtly beneficial leads to a weary, less responsive organisation.

There are different views for the increased pressure and numbers leaving the profession.  An example of such is given in the sources section (reference 3) at the end of this article.  The alternative view given in this article, which you are readiing, is based on the author’s work with school heads and governors and his own observations of situations.  The need to deal with the issues is not going to disappear in the short term and will require different approaches and active participation by the Governing Body of a school.

The incidence of head teachers being off sick for a lengthy period or even not returning due to a mix of illness and faltering leadershp seems to be more prevalent in the last few years.  We know that individuals react differently to pressure.  Some seem to thrive on it and others wilt. The danger arises when the pressure turns to stress and the individual becomes broken in spirit and/or health.

Headless Organisation

When the head becomes ill and/or stressed, the school may have a capable Deputy and SLT to step up to leadng the school.  However, that is not always so and the Deputy acts up but leadeship decisions become questionable due to the personal pressure perceived by him/her to prove themselves.  If the Governors are not actively supportive, the Deputy will begin to pass on the pressure to the staff.  A downward spiral develops.

The Governors need to intervene in several ways:

  • Secure an ex head or existing head to coach the Deputy in leading the school and use this time to develop the SLT as well;
  • Raise the self awareness of the Deputy and SLT so that they can address pressure points amongst themselves and receive appropriate support and coaching;
  • Review key priorities with the Deputy/SLT to avoid unneccessary changes that will lead to undue pressure;
  • If the Head is still in post, help the Head to realise that change for change’s sake or just to be seen to be ‘progressive’ is not necessarily in the best interests of the organisation and may be counterproductive;
  • The Governors need to accept their duty to ensure that working hours are reasonable.and the staff remain positive.

Governors’ Duty to Minimise Unreasonable Working Hours

In many organisations, professionals and managers have to work longer hours at critical periods.  The Teachers’ Terms and Conditions set out the working hours requirements but the Governing Body should be reviewing the hours regularly and seek to ensure that instances of long hours are examined and help given by a member of the SLT or a teacher colleague to the individual(s) to change the way they work and help the individual to be effectivel.  (See this earlier article for more details) [2]

When Individual Capability is a Key Factor

Working long hour may be a symptom or the cause of declining effectiveness.  The capability process can help to win an nidividual back in some instances.  However, many Governing Bodies have approved processes that are long winded.  In practice, such procedures fail frequently to provide a core supportive and balanced approach.

Heads and Governors need to be mindlful that because capability is often a drawn out process, patience can be lost and termination becomes the objective.  In some cases, that is appropriate.  If ill-heath is a contributory factor, a balanced approach is required if an unfair dismissal is not to result. This is an aspect of which Governors need to be aware.  When health has been affected by stress or similar illnesses, the doctors and therapists may not be able to provide an assessment on when an individual should be fit to return to work until after the treatment or sessions have been completed.

Balancing Act by the Governors as Employer

Such treatment may take, say 3 months more, and the Governors should balance whether waiting a further three months would be more damaging to the school (e.g. the pupils/students, teaching colleagues, costs etc.).

The Court of Appeal [1] has stated the importance of the balancing exercise.   The school had failed to provide any persuasive evidence of the further damage that would occur if the Governors waited for another three months before deciding whether or not to dismiss.

[Author’s note – tThis case was a majority decision.  The facts of a particular case will influence the outcome.  As the Court of Appeal noted this has been a hallmark for many years in ill-health cases per the case of Spencer v Paragon Wallpapers Ltd [1977]

“Every case depends on its own circumstances. The basic question which has to be determined in every case is whether, in all the circumstances, the employer can be expected to wait any longer and, if so, how much longer? Every case will be different, depending upon the circumstances.”}

As this is a decision by the Court of Appeal, it carries weight so Governing Bodies need to ensure that their internal hearings do carry out that balancing exercise and note the harm/damage either way if a decision on dismissal is not to be deferred in an ill-health type case.

Summary

Both the Head and Governors have an obligation to keep working hours under review and the Governors need to check that practical action is being taken to address instances of excessive hours and/or illness with performance/capability issues.

Further Action

Do you believe that a school has the opportunity to reduce the pressure on its teachers?  If so please leave a comment on this article as you can then help to draw more attention to the reality of such pressure and the need for action locally by the school.  

Sources:

[1]  O’Brien v Bolton St Catherine’s Academy [2017] EWCA Civ 145
[2]  Earlier blog article – Teachers’ Working Hours – Duties of Governors and Head Teacher
[3]  Recruitment, Budgets and Accountability by Ros McMullen, published March 31, 2017 by Headteachers’ Roundtable.

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Shortage of People not just Skills Ahead

All employers are likely to be affected by the change in the UK’s workforce profile which will lead to a large gap in the numbers of available employees because:

  • By 2022, 14.5 million more jobs will be created, but only 7 million younger workers will enter the workforce – a gap of 7.5 million.
  • By 2020, the over 50s will comprise almost one third of the working age population and almost half of the adult population.

Employers will have to adjust their attitudes and no longer maintain a bias against older workers.  More important, is how employers will nurture the advantages of a higher proportion of older individuals in their employment and use their experience and skills to the benefit of the organisation and the development of young workers.

Dispelling the Myths about the Unreliability of Older Workers

Lower sickness rates are not often associated with older individuals but that is the evidence from insurers and other sources.  Older workers also bring a maturer outlook and set of skills to the organisation.

There are also significant advantages to employing more older individuals as they are part of the corporate glue that leads to more effective engagement with employees and managers.

You can read more about the advantages and sources of help to enable employers to prepare for the changes ahead in our blog article, ‘ Older Employees – Organisational Asset or Liability?’

Would you like to discuss the above issues in the context of your organisation
on recruiting and managing older workers,if so contact, the author by writing to him or calling him on 07808 765588.

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Distracting but Necessary Issues to Address Shortly

In common with many organisations, Head Teachers and Governors have to grapple with peripheral issues that do not further the educational aims of the school but have to be dealt with as they are statutory requirements and could lead to adverse publicity for the school.

Peripheral Issues Arising

The following matters will need to be considered in the coming months as the implementation date for some issues is April 2017.

  1. Gender Pay Reporting **
  2. Data protection  – new European standard and regulations
  3. Employment of apprentices and the Apprenticeship Levy **
  4. Changes to Immigration rules and increased costs for employers
  5. Increases in the National Minimum Wage rates
  6. Mental health issues at work
  7. School policies that have been overtaken by recent cases and regulations.

The items with ** will apply to organisations with 250 or more staff but do not heave a sigh or relief just yet.   Because many schools are now within a larger employer such as a Multi-Academy Trust, the reporting needs will affect you although your employer will have to carry out the compliance work.

Tips About Complying and Gaining Extra Value

To help head teachers and school governors, I shall be publishing during the next two months:

  • Articles and tips on the above;
  • References to previous articles that provide insight into the pitfalls in some issues;
  • Simple checks you can make to ensure that you have not breached the requirements inadvertently.

Receive Notification of New Articles and Tips

To ensure you do not miss the articles, you can be notified when they are published.  Just click on the link for ‘receive notifications’ in the left hand column of this page.

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The Headsup HR blog is published by HR Management Dimensions Ltd.under the editorial lead of Jim Harrington.

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Employment Rights – A Quick Reference Source

The range of employment rights is wide and it is easy to lose track of the current rates/allowances such as statutory leave, minimum rates of pay.    You may only need to look those up occasionally and ideally would like to be able to go to one source to save time.

Key HR Facts

Well now you can by going to Key HR Facts.   These are a free source of reference which  you can find by using the following link – http://bit.ly/2ieG5ew.

You are also welcome to share the Key HR Facts pages with colleagues provided the copyright and source are displayed on each page or extract shared by whatever means.

Key HR Facts are produced by HR Management Dimensions Ltd.

If you feel it would be useful to include other facts in those quick reference pages, please let us know.

Understand the Facts in Context

Looking up the facts is useful but it is also important to understand them in the context in which you will use them.  For example, being able to look up the latest minimum rates of pay is helpful but what are the common pitfalls into which managers fall?  As an example read our blog article about such pitfalls.

You may find it useful to read articles on our blogs – links to which are provided at the end of this article.

We also welcome the occasional call if you would like to discuss an issue – without a charge – if it can be answered in a few minutes.   Our contact details are on this page.

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