Term-time only

Term-time working enables individuals with school age children to work full-time or part-time during term-time while taking the school holidays off. 

Schools, nurseries, colleges and universities are the main providers of jobs with term-time working contracts, but other organisations may offer them to staff as long as there isn’t a negative impact on business.

A word of warning – vacancies with term-time working contracts are like gold dust.  Competition will be very stiff - so make sure you put a great deal of effort into the application process and submit your application as soon as possible.

Pros of working term-time only

Term-time working can provide an obvious solution to the difficulties many parents have with finding suitable childcare during school holidays.

Cons of working term-time only 

Employees on term-time only contracts are not usually allowed to take annual leave during term-time.  This probably isn’t going to be a problem if you have school age children to care for, but it may be problematic is you want to take the odd day off outside school holidays.

Also, there have been news reports that all state schools will be able to set their own term dates from September 2015.  This may mean that if you work term-time in a school, you may not have the same school holidays as your children if they attend a different school.

Is term-time working right for you?

If you want or need to be with your children during the school holidays then working term-time only is probably going to be very attractive to you.

Making the case for term-time working

If you decide to ask your employer to consider moving you to a term-time only contract there are several things you can do to prepare your case. 

As with all requests to move to flexible working, you should do your homework and prepare well.  Try to pre-empt some of the objections your employer is likely to have.  In the case of term-time working you need to consider how your work would be covered during your long periods of absence – particularly during the summer holidays.

It may be that your work is quieter during the holidays as your customers may be away, for example.  If this is the case, this may be a good way to justify your request as your employer can save money by not having you working when you are not needed.

It is very important that you stick to the business case for working term-time.  You should not use your personal situation (eg, ‘I want to be at home with my children during the holidays’) as a reason to justify your request.

You will also have to deal with the tendency of other parents in your workplace to take annual leave during the school holidays. Your business case needs to be based on the actual staffing levels during the holidays, not the total strength of your department.  You cannot expect your colleagues to waive their right to book annual leave during school holidays.

If you find that your manager isn’t open to you not working at all during the school holidays, you may be able to negotiate reduced hours during the holidays if you can show that there is less work during these times.