Teachers' employment rights summary: maintained sector in Scotand

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Rights and conditions
02 November 2016
The following is a summary of the statutory rights of classroom teachers and chartered teachers in the maintained sector in Scotland. Principal teachers, deputy headteachers and headteachers have different entitlements in some areas.

The employment of teachers in the maintained sector in Scotland is governed by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) handbook of conditions of service, which is the result of collective negotiations between trade unions, employers' organisations and government.

This section covers your rights under the SNCT handbook, as well as the minimum rights you are entitled to under general employment law. In addition, your contractual rights may be affected by locally negotiated agreements.

Your right to a statement of particulars of employment

  • Your employer has a legal duty to give you a written statement of the particulars of your employment within two months of you starting your job. The statement should contain, for example, your hours of work, holiday entitlement, place of work, etc.

  • Your employer should also state the title of your job and a brief description of the work for which you are employed.
  • ATL recommends that you should be given a proper job description that outlines your particular role and duties, as this helps to clarify your role and define your workload.

Working hours and workload

  • The working year for teachers consists of 195 days of which 190 days will coincide with the school year for pupils, with the remaining five days being worked by the individual teachers on duties as planned by the local authority.
  • All teachers should have a 35-hour working week. The working week applies on a pro rata basis to teachers on part-time contracts.
  • Within the 35-hour week, a maximum of 22.5 hours will be devoted to class contact.
  • All teachers have a contractual requirement to complete a maximum of 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) per annum. Teachers on part-time contracts will complete CPD per annum on a pro-rata basis, in accordance with the pro-rata contractual arrangements that apply to the working week.
  • Subject to the policies of the school and the local authority, the duties of teachers are to perform such tasks as the headteacher shall direct. These should give reasonable regard to overall teacher workload.
  • You cannot be required routinely to undertake tasks of an administrative or non-teaching nature.
  • You cannot be required to supervise pupils within the school grounds, in dining and/or recreation areas during school hours but outwith scheduled teacher class contact time.


Travelling time between schools during the school day is regarding as pupil contact time, except during the midday break when a teacher should have a personal break of not less than 40 minutes.


You cannot be required to undertake duties on any of the 170 calendar days that are not specified as working days by the school.

Special leave

Special leave, with or without pay, may be authorised for specified reasons within arrangements agreed by the Local Negotiating Committee for Teachers.

Right to time off in case of family emergency

You have a statutory right to take reasonable time off work, without pay, to deal with unexpected or sudden problems concerning a dependant and to make any necessary longer-term arrangements.

Notice periods

The minimum notice period for teachers in Scotland is four weeks.

Teachers on two or more fixed-term contracts

  • If you have been employed on two or more fixed-term contracts for four years since July 2002 you have the right to a permanent contract of employment, unless the school can provide objective justification not to make you a permanent employee. Contact ATL as outlined below for more information.
  • Councils will only appoint teachers who are fully registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland to permanent contracts

Your right to request to stay on at work after you turn 65

  • The normal retirement age for teachers is the age of 65.

  • You have the right to request to stay on in employment at the school after the age of 65, and the right to be accompanied by your ATL representative during this process. However, the school is not legally obliged to grant your request.

If you have any queries about your statutory rights, please contact ATL as outlined below.

See also