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Max1968

Employer not renewing a Fixed Term Contract but I am on a Permanent Contract so advice appreciated.

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Hoping this is the correct forum so apologise if not.

 

After a good two years being ill I managed to get a job starting last January at a local SEN school as a Teaching Assistant. Upon calling me with the news the Head told me not to get too excited as it was only until July.

 

A few days after I started I was conversing with the HR Head about something else when I mentioned to her about this Fixed Term Contract. She told me that I was on a Permanent Contract so I assumed that the 6 months the Head was talking about was the 3 then 6 months probation.

 

Got through 3 months fine but today I was called into a conversation with the Assistant Head and was told my contract was not being renewed because next years student numbers have dropped and the student that I was partially one to one with is no longer classed as one to one. For clarification I was helping many students as I was told that one to one is in name only and I was working in the class with all. However I mentioned to the Asst Head that I was a tad confused as HR had told me I was on a Permanent Contract. The Asst looked a tad confused themselves and said they would look into it and mentioned that if I was on a Fixed Contract they would not have done any probation which confused me again because it was this Assistant Head that received my Line Managers 3 month probation form so you would have expected it to have flagged up a possible contract error.

 

A massive kick in the teeth is that I also received a staff email later on that says they are recruiting for Teaching Assistants for next year and yet I am told I am surplus to requirements because they don't need any more TA's despite at the meeting being told that all feedback on my efforts are positive and that my contract isn't being renewed purely down to numbers not being required?!

 

If I am honest I have never got on with this particular Assistant Head. They belittle many people and are generally disliked by a larger proportion of the staff and from day one I could tell that she had a problem with me for whatever reason. So I wouldn't be surprised if they just want me out.

 

However if they have had a breakdown in communication and whilst I was originally meant to be on a Fixed Term Contract but HR accidently put me on a Permanent One what are my rights here? I have gone through the contract with a fine toothcomb and I cannot fond anywhere where it says it's Fixed Term and whilst there is a commencement date there is not expiry date.

 

If they have made an error they may try another excuse but if I have been already told that the only reason for my dismissal is that they do not require me next year then what can I do if another excuse/reason is put forward in another meeting?

 

I love the job and obviously feedback on my performance is positive and whilst I would love to stay this is an incredibly awkward situation for both sides but if I am correct and I am on a Permanent Contract and they have made an error what if any rights do I have?

 

Most appreciated.

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Realistically, you have so little service, and therefore so few employment rights, perm vs fixed term is a red herring. Although the details will be in your actual contract - what does it say?

 

If they are advertising - apply.


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Thanks for the reply. As I stated above the contract has no end date on it so that along with HR's comments suggest it is permanent. I understand that with so little service my rights are limited but if it's a permanent contract I am on do they therefore need another reason to terminate the contract as they can't say it's down to the contract coming to an end if there is no end date specified can they?

 

 

Re reapplying that's something I will have to weigh up as it's the same people who do the interviews!!!

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Unfortunately, people do make mistakes and so even if your contact isn't fixed term, there is nothing in law to prevent them from correcting a mistake. But with less than two years service, the employer can dismiss for almost any reason they wish, and they don't need a reason either. So there isn't really any mileage there.

 

However, have you tried a conversation, with them, the Head or HR? Just to explain that you are confused because you don't think you are on a fixed term contract and they are advertising anyway so why are they saying they have enough staff? It is entirely possible that a mistake had been made in the records somewhere - either by HR or the school - and you just need to know what that is because you've enjoyed your job and you'd like to apply for one of the vacancies if they aren't going too keep you on anyway. Having a conversation is always a good place to start. You may be entirely wrong about the nefarious dealings, and it's all a mistake from which you are inferring things that aren't the case - either way, it seems they haven't communicated well with each other anyway, so a mistake is entirely within reason. And you have nothing to lose.

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Thanks for the reply. As I stated above the contract has no end date on it so that along with HR's comments suggest it is permanent. I understand that with so little service my rights are limited but if it's a permanent contract I am on do they therefore need another reason to terminate the contract as they can't say it's down to the contract coming to an end if there is no end date specified can they?

 

 

Re reapplying that's something I will have to weigh up as it's the same people who do the interviews!!!

 

It should contain an end date. But as Emmzzi says, it's irrelevant at this point in time. If they wish to terminate they can do so. They don't have to give you any reason, so it doesn't matter what the reason is - that is also a red herring. You need to talk to them. If you like the job, then have that conversation. You are saying that the assistant head didn't like you from day one and it's a plan to get rid of you. That's maybe so. But it's a guess and guesses can be wrong. And there's are others that you can speak to. You don't have to make it a battle with sides. Just explain you are confused by all this, you have loved working there, and you just need to understand.

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Sure thing Sangie thanks. I am seeing if anything comes back after I commented about this at the meeting and if I don't hear anything I will contact HR and see what they say. Also I'll ask this whilst I am here anyway but if it turns out I am indeed on a fixed contract until the end of July are they required to give me time off for interviews at other venues~? Obviously in this sector all schools are advertising and recruiting for next year so I could potentially have a lot of applications going out and one would hope a few interviews being offered.

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No, they aren't required to give you time off for interviews. Some public sector employers have policy that permits this, but it's up to each employer to decide for themselves. You'd need to ask what their policy is, but my experience of schools is that they rarely do. That said, they may also interview outside school hours to manage that problem. There's a lot of recruitment happens in half terms and the first week of the summer holidays.

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Well had another meeting today with the Assistant Head and my Line Manager joined me.

I was told that yep they made a cock up with the contracts and whilst it should have been a Fixed Contract they had given me a Permanent One accidently.

 

Two choices and that's to either go when my Fixed Contract runs out late July or stand firm on my Permanent One but was told that I would fail the 6 months probation anyway so it's goodbye or goodbye

 

Somewhat confused as on Tuesday my performance was apparently good and my 3 month probation passed without incident and yet today some negative feedback from unnamed teachers will mean I fail the probation.

 

Four examples were given but no info given on the teachers and quite frankly they are untrue and laughable and if there is any truth in one of them there is a perfectly valid reason as a response, but on the whole it's clearly a clash of personalities and the Asst Head wants me out for whatever reason and even my Line Manager said as much. No point in applying for next year either I was told.

 

So not sure what to do. There is some scope for discussion with regard to time off for interviews and my pro rata salary whereas they would write off any owed monies to the employer if I left early for another job, although I am sure an Asst Head can't decide that, as it is clearly a payroll issue.

 

I could I guess ask for a confidential meeting with HR but not sure if that would get me anywhere.

What annoyed me the most was that the Ass Head criticised another TA who was not even there and that's an absolute no no, you do not do that in front of me and my Line Manager as their opinion on others has nothing to do with us. Very unprofessional.

 

So it doesn't matter if I stay firm on the Permanent contract or accept that is was Fixed Term it seems that I am out late July regardless of which path I choose.

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Left after fixed term sounds better than failed probation, so I'd go with that and time off for interviews.


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Payroll don't decide anything. Managers tell them what to pay, and payroll process it. But I'd get any such agreement in writing. Otherwise it isn't worth anything.

 

I'd also be cautious about believing too much of what a line manager says. They can afford in this situation to be your friend - they can't go against the assistant head. But that doesn't mean they want to. I'd be surprised in the extreme if they didn't know about this all along, and weren't part of the decision.

 

I would also advise going at the end of the fixed term contract.

 

I would advise being a member of a union next time. Unions can prevent employers lawfully sacking people, but they can give them pause for thought, and they provide you with advice and support, including representation.

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Well I've seen so many Union issues over the years I rightly or wrongly decided against joining although as you say in hindsight next time around I'll possibly join one. I'll be very surprised if my Line Manager is part of this.

 

I trust him for many reasons and he was actually criticised at the meeting by the Asst Head for being "too nice". As I say he was in charge of my three month probation and all was very positive so unless he is a wolf in sheep's clothing I would be very surprised if he was part of this.

 

Other colleagues have also expressed their shock and surprise to what has been going on as well so even if those four negatives were true, which in my opinion they are not, I clearly have far more positives than negatives. Having said that apparently I am not the first this has happened two (bar the contract error) and it's obviously a case of if your face doesn't fit.

 

I agree though that leaving at end of a Fixed Term Contract is far better than leaving due to failed probation so if they are my only options then I'll probably go with that because by bucking heads I'll clearly only come off worse.

 

For a matter of interest though if I decided to look at the possibility of unfair dismissal what steps would I take? Also am I within my rights to ask for a written copy of all positives and negatives with regard to my probation along with which teachers these came from because it is quite possible that these are made up excuses?

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For a matter of interest though if I decided to look at the possibility of unfair dismissal what steps would I take? Also am I within my rights to ask for a written copy of all positives and negatives with regard to my probation along with which teachers these came from because it is quite possible that these are made up excuses?

 

 

 

 

You have no chance of making that stick and will be drawing out the agony, letting your resentment fester, and getting a reputation as a PITA when you could be leaving quietly and getting on with your life.

 

 

Sometimes, people just don't like you; and if all that happens is you need a new job, you are doing ok. I'd be more interested in the kind of reference you are going to get.


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Its a toughie I agree but you need to focus on your exit plan.

 

 

For a matter of interest though if I decided to look at the possibility of unfair dismissal what steps would I take? Also am I within my rights to ask for a written copy of all positives and negatives with regard to my probation along with which teachers these came from because it is quite possible that these are made up excuses?

 

 

No you cannot.

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Thanks for the advice you are right there is obviously northing I can do although it's a shame that I can't even defend myself to untruths. They said I would get a decent refence although obviously I have no idea what it will be like. I heard somewhere no one can give you a bad reference but I am not sure that is right. My Line Manager has given me his personal details and said he will supply me with a good reference so I'll include him as well.

 

 

Considering that a Fixed Contract dismissal will obviously look better do I now need to request the correct contract to sign? I will also get the promises about the interviews and financial side in writing.

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Any employer can give a bad reference as long as its true.

 

Poor timekeeping

Poor sickness record

Disciplinarys

Warnings.

 

As long as its true.

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Well none of those four apply so unless it will include the fabrications that she came up with hopefully it will be ok.

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Well none of those four apply so unless it will include the fabrications that she came up with hopefully it will be ok.

 

Those were examples, not an exhaustive list. Which is why the manner of your exit could be critical. "Max1968 was on a fixed term contract which we chose not to renew due to concerns about their performance expressed by several members of staff." That's true. I know it is because it's all contained in your posts! There's often a question asked too - "Would you employ this person again?" The answer might be no. That would also be the truth. Your truth isn't their truth, or you wouldn't be posting here. That's why you are being advised not to upset any apple carts. Especially since references between schools are obligatory, unlike in most other professions.

 

Whatever the reason, your face didn't fit here. It happens, unfortunately. So take it with the best grace you can and move on.

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Yep of course I understand that but at the same time if they weren't being untruthful I wouldn't be posting here. I'm trying to see a way to salvage a career as a TA and make sure that one untruthful reference can't destroy the positive references of the past.

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May I kindly ask that if I had been in the Union what (if anything) they would have been able to do in this situation? Thanks.

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May I kindly ask that if I had been in the Union what (if anything) they would have been able to do in this situation? Thanks.

 

 

That feels like a question for the union; but generally ensure due process is followed, and have a chat with the boss about layoffs, performance management and recruitment all seeming to happen at the same time in a disconnected way, which is poor employee relations.

 

 

And help if you did get a poor reference.

 

 

How are the job applications going? Time to look forward, allons y


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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May I kindly ask that if I had been in the Union what (if anything) they would have been able to do in this situation? Thanks.

 

It's far less likely that an employer in this situation would give a bad reference - because a union can take legal action on references which you are unlikely to be able to afford. But otherwise, other than moral support and pressure, vey little because the employer is acting legally. But sometimes that's all it takes - some employers would rather not cross a union.

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Yep of course I understand that but at the same time if they weren't being untruthful I wouldn't be posting here. I'm trying to see a way to salvage a career as a TA and make sure that one untruthful reference can't destroy the positive references of the past.

 

I realise. That's why I'm telling you this. Leaving gracefully is less likely to raise bad blood. Bad references sometimes happen because employees are bad. But they also happen because an employer is p'd off with someone. If there was a win for you here, it might be worth being pushy or difficult. But there isn't, so you need to go out with a smile, even if it's only skin deep. Possibly considering it a lucky escape? It might not feel that way right now, but it undoubtedly will sometime later...

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How are the job applications going? Time to look forward, allons y

 

Well I am considering changing career and becoming an Undercover Agent for OFSTED!!!!

 

Seriously, I'm doing some serious thinking right now and may just move into another field as obviously this has left a bitter taste.

 

Funnily enough I have got an interview next week in a different field but the problem is that at the meeting last week whilst discussing my concerns about owing money due to pro rata salary she, whilst giving me options to leave early if I found a new job, came up with a date around 1st July which I assume is because they want to leave it as late as they can in the school year rather than get someone else in, although I might be wrong as they can obviously get supply cover in if needed.

 

So not quite sure why she suggested that date.

Obviously that doesn't help though if I say was to get this job next week and they wanted me to start immediately.

 

As Sangie quite rightly advises I can't win this battle so my best bet is to get away relatively unscathed and that means not owing money if I can.

That means accepting the Fixed Contract because I assume the salary would have been worked out with thoughts of athe possibility of that contract not being extended, whereas if I insist on keeping the permanent contract I am unsure if I would be able to get away without owing some salary for the holidays etc.

 

I know that there are people out there who do CV's for others but I am going to look into whether there is anyone that helps out with Applications. I kept a diary at this job with bullet points with each new experience and what I did so there are plenty of positives there but I could do with someone in the know placing those bullet points into good application text.

 

I realise. That's why I'm telling you this. Leaving gracefully is less likely to raise bad blood. Bad references sometimes happen because employees are bad. But they also happen because an employer is p'd off with someone. If there was a win for you here, it might be worth being pushy or difficult. But there isn't, so you need to go out with a smile, even if it's only skin deep. Possibly considering it a lucky escape? It might not feel that way right now, but it undoubtedly will sometime later...

 

Thanks, You are right so I'll be pleasant and get on with the job until late July or whenever I can get another one. It's just a great shame because I battled back from a two year nightmare with ill health to find something I loved doing and thought I was doing pretty well according to most only to be scuppered by a very small minority with some agenda that I can't even hazard a guess on. Unfortunately I am not the first and won't be the last at that school and wish I could advise the next person to join a Union, check your contract, don't trust anyone watch your back!!

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I'd be very cautious of any employer who wants you to start immediately - every employer knows that people have notice periods, and one month is not an unreasonable notice period, especially given the fact that you work in a school. Put it this way, if someone expects that you'll drop all your responsibilities and break your contracted word to your current employer just to come and work for them, how reliable do you think THEIR word is?

 

Applications are easy - I see lots of them. What lets people down is one very simple issue. Every job will have a job description / person specification / list of things that the job involves or needs. It doesn't matter what the employer calls it- all it is is a list of things they want. Cut and paste that list into a word document and make the list into headings. Then say what the heading says and give and example - for example, the heading says "Must be a good team worker"; so you say "I am a good team worker. In my current role I worked with a team of six people to create effective processes to support children in the classroom...." Don't miss out any headings, even if all you write is that you will support and abide by a policy. Then delete the headings and you have your supporting statement or letter. That way you have told the employer that you are their perfect employee. The mistakes I see all the time are either ignoring or not addressing that list, or rambling around the bushes so that I have to really dig for the information I need. If I want to interview six people, and I have a lot of applicants, I won't go rambling with them! And ALWAYS write a statement for each job - don't just cut and paste from another application without checking the exact wording. If you can't be bothered to apply for MY job, then why would I want to be bothered reading your application for another job?

 

Good luck with the job hunting.

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Thanks Sangie. Great tip on the application writing thanks. One more question, how long would you as an employer want a statement to be? One side of A4? Two? As many as it takes to cover what's needed?

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