Support staff pay

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Pay and pensions
20 February 2017
There are no national pay rates for support staff employed in the state sector. Most LEA schools use the local government pay scales to pay their support staff in conjunction with National Joint Council (NJC) terms and conditions.

However, this can vary between local authorities, which means it is not possible to be prescriptive about the rate of pay support staff will receive. An employee's contract should state their rate of pay, the point on the local government pay scale that refers to, and how the rate will increase on an incremental basis to a certain point.

The current pay spine for the maintained sector in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and London Weighting rates can be found on the pay scales page.

Academies and Free Schools

Most academies have maintained the link to the Local Government pay arrangements, which means that they adhere to the pay agreements reached periodically, and also use the Local Government pay spine.

However, some Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) have negotiated new arrangements for support staff pay. You can find out about the position in your MAT here.

Free schools have the ability to set their own pay, terms and conditions, without reference to the Maintained sector.

Independent schools

Support staff in independent schools are employed on a range of terms and conditions that are determined by their individual contracts.

Other schools have their own salary rates but as with teachers, details of support staff pay should be included in a written pay policy.

Term-time-only contracts

A term-time-only contract means that an employee is only employed when the school is open - in most cases, for 38 or 39 weeks a year.

However, employees on term-time-only contracts are entitled by law to paid leave, and this entitlement is usually added on (but reduced on a pro rata basis) to the weeks worked to establish the overall salary. For example, if a school is open for 39 weeks and there is a leave entitlement of five weeks, then the employee must be paid for 39 weeks, plus their leave entitlement (reduced on a pro rata basis).

The salary is usually divided by 12 and paid in equal monthly instalments throughout the year to ensure that the employee receives regular payments.

Pay for term time workers should reflect their contractual working arrangements. If term time workers are required to undertake work outside of their contracted hours they must be appropriately remunerated. Any such additional hours should be incorporated into contractual arrangements if they are an ongoing feature of the post.

Schools particularly should take steps to identify the hours required of support staff and to pay for all such hours. For example, staff, should be paid if required to attend INSET training days.

For more information about term-time pay, including how to calculate the leave entitlement of a term-time employee, see the section in ATL's advice on part-time pay.

Concerns over term-time pay

Support staff are often unsure about how their salary is calculated, especially if they are paid on a term-time-only basis. Some schools do not make clear exactly how salary calculations are made, and can be reluctant to provide information about it.

Whatever method is used, however, calculation of salary should be fair and accurate, and ensure that term-time workers are not penalised compared to their full-time colleagues. The chosen calculation method should be made clear in the statement of particulars of employment.

One of the problems with term-time-only posts is that the salary is often quoted at the full 52-week rate when vacancies are advertised. The successful applicant then has a nasty surprise when the actual salary is revealed. To ensure that there is no confusion, ATL believes that term-time-only posts should be clearly marked as such, and the actual salary quoted.

Term-time-only contracts also create a disparity in schools because teachers are paid all the year round and therefore receive a far greater leave entitlement. ATL believes that schools and local authorities should begin to address this issue, and work towards full-year contracts for all staff.

Single status

The Single Status Agreement was signed in 1997 by the local government employers and the local government trade unions (Unison, GMB and Unite).

Local authorities in England and Wales were given until 31st March 2007 to implement single status, but many have yet to do so.

The term 'single status' is shorthand for the harmonisation of pay and conditions across a local authority for comparable posts, including all non-teaching posts in schools. The main features are:

  • one pay spine, on which all employees are included
  • harmonisation of conditions of service
  • equal status for part-time employees
  • a standard working week of 37 hours or less
  • grading reviews using one job evaluation scheme.

ATL's general advice to support staff members on any job evaluation process introduced as part of the roll-out of single status is as follows:

  • make sure that the job evaluation is based on your current job description, and that it includes all of your current duties
  • once the initial outcome of the evaluation is communicated to you, and if you are unhappy with it, raise any queries with your line manager, and ask for the decision to be reviewed
  • if in spite of this, you remain dissatisfied with the job evaluation, you will have a formal right of appeal against the decision - contact your branch immediately for advice.

Where jobs are evaluated at an equal or higher pay rate to other comparable rates predominantly undertaken by a different gender, there may be a case for pursuing an equal pay claim. If you believe that you may have the basis for a claim, email national officer for support staff Peter Morris, providing as much detailed information as you can.