Conference 2018: What Every Supply Teacher Needs to Know About Agency Worker Regulations
My first time attending the annual NUT Conference and experiencing the voting process was a great induction into how the union functions. There were many great speeches about the struggles teachers are facing in schools. I particularly liked The Data Have Landed by Michael Rosen, who gave an inspirational speech on how teaching has changed and for further change, the fight goes on.
Motion 34, Supply Teachers Employment
Delegates Samantha Nicholson-Hickling from Oldham and Natara Hunter from Warwickshire gave convincing arguments in support of improved pay and conditions for supply teachers. We were reminded that agencies have a legal obligation to comply with parity pay in accordance with Agency Workers Regulations, and the practice of 'free trial' work without pay was deplored. There was great support for the creation of a National Supply Teacher Service with a central register of supply teachers and for supply teachers being paid MPS with access to the Teachers' Pension Scheme. I was genuinely touched by the widespread support supply teachers received and the motion was passed.
Motion 51, Supply Teacher Executive Seat
Speeches in support of this motion were very well received by delegates and Richard Knights gave passionate arguments in favour. The show of hands was close and a recount was needed by digi-vote.
Disappointingly, we ran out of time to vote on this motion by 2 minutes and it was shelved. Again, the support from fellow colleagues for better representation for supply teachers was overwhelming.
It seems apparent that the inequalities of supply teachers' pay and conditions is higher on the agenda and support is increasing. I look forward to guiding this heightened awareness into meaningful actions.
Every supply teacher needs to know about the Agency Worker Regulations
The Agency Workers Regulations give supply teachers rights after 12 weeks in the same LA, school or academy group. This employment law is there to protect supply teachers (all agency workers) being exploited and to ensure equal and fair treatment. The agency has a legal requirement to ensure parity pay after 12 weeks. Take time to understand the vocabulary. AWR refers to:
Hirer of agency workers = School
'Temp' agency worker: = Supply Teacher
Temporary work agency = Supply Agency
Supply Teacher A
Working in a primary school part-time January 2017 - July 2107. Paid £150 daily.
After getting in touch with NUT reps Helena Tendall and Samina Randall, the supply teacher sent a standard letter to the agency about AWR rights to parity pay after 12 weeks. Within weeks, Supply Teacher A received £320 in backdated pay.
Supply Teacher B
Covering PPA in a primary school part-time January 2017 - July 2107. Paid £155 daily.
Also got in touch with NUT rep Helena Tendall, and sent a standard letter to the agency about AWR rights to parity pay after 12 weeks. Within weeks, Supply Teacher B received £617 in backdated pay.
Umbrella payroll companies
Many agencies use an umbrella payroll company. The day rate quoted to teachers is a gross amount and Employers' National Insurance and payroll processing fees must be deducted to get an equivalent figure to PAYE. For example, £130 through umbrella roughly equates to £112 PAYE.
Umbrella payroll is advertised as a way of making better use of tax benefits but the opposite is actually true. Theoretically, one could deduct allowable business expenses from your taxable earnings. However, since the tightening of these rules there is probably nothing that a teacher could legitimately claim for. It is claimed that if you have multiple agencies then having a single umbrella payroll will allow you to consolidate your tax allowance. However, whilst it is true that your personal allowance can only be assigned by default to one employer it is possible to request a split from the tax office yourself and any extra tax deducted will be refunded anyway. Umbrella companies never mention that each separate employer has a national insurance allowance. This means that you would actually pay less NI on earnings without umbrella.
There are more and more agencies offering PAYE and ethical supply agencies emerging.