Lecturers' employment rights summary: further education sector in England and Wales

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Rights and conditions
02 November 2016
The following is a summary of the key employment rights relevant to lecturers in the further education sector in England and Wales.

Your statutory rights are the minimum you are entitled to as an employee of the college. In some cases your contract will provide you with better terms and conditions and, if this is the case, those better terms and conditions will apply.

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 pay, and on what basis it is calculated if you are a part-time teacher, should also be included. As well as the terms set out in this statement, there may be some terms of employment applying to all staff which are contained in a separate document, such as a staff handbook, which should be readily available within the college.

Your employer should also state the title of your job and a brief description of the work for which you are employed.

Your contract of employment is comprised of the written statement of the particulars of employment together with (depending on individual circumstances) the letter of appointment, and other particulars of your employment that are provided to you in instalments or contained in separate collective agreements. All of these might be contained or referred to in a contract of employment that you and your employer sign.

ATL recommends that you should be given a clear job description that outlines your particular duties, as this helps to clarify your role and define your workload.

Working hours

As there is no national agreement on working hours for lecturers, these can vary considerably from college to college. However, agreements have been reached in a majority of colleges that normally limit weekly working hours to 37 and teaching hours to between 800 and 850 per year. In addition, there is often a weekly limit on teaching hours of 24 hours.

More generally, the Working Time Regulations 1998 place a limit on the working week of 48 hours, averaged over 17 weeks.

In addition, rights for most workers include:

  • an uninterrupted rest break of at least 20 minutes during a working day of six hours or more; such a rest break is to be taken during the six hours, and not simply at one end or the other
  • a daily rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours in each 24-hour period
  • a minimum weekly rest period of at least 24 hours in each 7-day period, although employers can opt for 14-day averaging. The rest period is not required to include Sunday.

ATL understands that lecturers in the FE sector often work excessive hours. However, we can provide support to lecturers who wish to raise concerns with their employer over their working hours under the Working Time Regulations, on health and safety grounds, and/or who are concerned about their work/life balance. Please contact us using the details given at the end of this page.


Again, there is considerable variation in the amount of paid holiday entitlement available to lecturers employed in different colleges, with a range of between 37 and 60 days plus bank holidays. In addition, many contracts provide for a specified number of 'efficiency' days when the college is closed and 'self-directed' days when lecturers may work away from the college premises.

It is still unusual for holiday entitlement to be taken during the normal college teaching year, unless there is a specific arrangement with line managers. Many contracts allow for a minimum of four weeks consecutive leave to be taken over the summer.

Notice periods

You must follow the notice provisions set out in your contract of employment unless they are less than the statutory minimum notice periods.

The statutory notice period requires both you and the college to give a minimum of one week's notice for employment over one month but less than two complete years, and two weeks for two years, three weeks for three years, etc, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

Other entitlements

ATL and the national employers' body (the Association of Colleges) have agreed a number of national guideline agreements, which establish recommended minimum standards for such entitlements as maternity leave, dependants' leave and sickness leave. The full list of agreements can be downloaded from the right-hand side of this page.

See also

Collective agreements in FE

Applies to England only unless stated otherwise