Term-time only

Can term-time roles suit your organisation?

Term-time working is designed primarily to help parents with young children work only when their children are at school.  This means that term-time employees will have around 13 weeks off per year.

Term-time only contracts are available most often in the education sector, but there is no reason why other industries cannot offer term-time working if they want to, particularly those which supply or work with education establishments.

Pros of term-time working

  • Better retention and recruitment of employees with child-caring responsibilities
  • Can be particularly useful to organisations concerned about retention rates of women with school age children
  • May be a cost effective option if peaks and troughs in your business coincide with the school calendar
  • Can increase staff loyalty and lower staff turnover

Cons of term-time working

  • May put pressure on staff who are not on term-time only contracts not to take annual leave during school holidays
  • May necessitate the hiring of temporary staff during the school holidays.

Some things to remember

A term-time only employee will effectively be taking unpaid leave for the difference between the time off they actually take and their paid holiday entitlement. An employee who works only during term-time will usually take their holiday entitlement only during the school holidays.

The salary of a term time employee is calculated by comparing the number of actual weeks worked by the employee with the actual weeks worked by a whole time equivalent employee and takes into account pro rata entitlements for annual leave and public and bank holidays. 

Term-time only employees are usually paid the same amount each month rather than for the actual hours they worked in any given month. Their salary includes payments for annual leave and public and bank holidays, which is then paid in twelve equal monthly instalments on a pro rata basis. This method of payment also confirms the individuals’ continuity of service and enables them to protect their statutory employment rights.

Consideration needs to be given to whether a term-time only employee can take holiday during term-time – if you do decide to allow this, then you could either deduct the hours not worked from your employee’s salary or require the employee to make up the lost hours.

According to Unison*, the law is not clear on the employment status of term-time workers.  They say that it does not specify whether they are full or part-time staff and leaves it to employers to classify term-time workers. It also adds that this is more than a technical issue, as part-time staff are covered by specific protective regulations.

* Unison info leaflet 2012