HR and employment matters in schools
When complex staffing issues arise, schools need immediate advice that gives a clear analysis of the risks and a strategic plan of action. That could be anything from devising a long-term strategy for dealing with an entrenched trade union situation across a large multi-academy trust, to resolving a complex employment tribunal claim from an ex-employee against a community primary school.
Our clients receive quick, pragmatic advice and are safe in the knowledge that, as sector specialists, we ensure they aren’t tripped up by missing the latest government guidance or changes to legislation.
Our employment team provides specialist advice to our education clients and have a long history of advising academies and schools. Working in tandem, our employment lawyers and education HR consultants provide our ‘HR Services for Schools’, designed specifically for academies and schools, offering a complete package of support ranging from managing day-to-day HR issues to guidance on strategic organisational changes.
We regularly provide training on topics such as recent employment law updates and training for leaders on effective people management.
So, whether it’s a routine question interpreting the Burgundy Book rules on maternity leave or a strategic review of staff resulting in a whole school restructure, our team has the experience to ensure our clients achieve the result they are looking for.
For information on HR Services products please contact us.
What we do...
- Strategic employment law advice to academy and schools
- Team restructures, bespoke contracts and terms of employment
- Dealing with complex grievances and disciplinaries
- Managing allegations against staff
- Referrals to the Teaching Regulation Agency
- Exit agreements and compliance with the Academy Trust Handbook
- Discrimination issues
- TUPE transfers and indemnities on outsourcing
- Supporting you with trade union issues - from collective negotiation to injunctions on industrial action
- Specialist reward consultancy, e.g. advice to remuneration committees regarding executive pay, salary benchmarking, redesign of pay and reward structures
- Bespoke and off-the-shelf training for all levels of staff (including governors and trustees) on HR matters
Sole HR provider
We’re the sole HR provider for a large group of academies across the Midlands. Acting as an integral advisor to each of their schools on a day-to-day basis, we’re well placed to have an overview of the HR issues facing the organisation and identify trends and risks. We do this informally on a daily basis and provide the senior leadership with a written report monthly (or immediately if a case is high profile or high risk) so that they’re fully aware of the HR issues in their schools.
Working with a MAT to support the redesign of career pathways along with pay ranges, terms and conditions taking a more tactical approach to addressing the recruitment and retention problems that exist in the sector.
Working with an executive team to realise a strategic people plan that delivers to the overarching Trust vision and development strategy.
Large national MAT
We’re working with a large national MAT as their integrated outsourced employee relations team. We’re plugged in to the trust via a technology-based helpdesk platform enabling us to receive HR advisory requests from schools which we can then directly respond to, log priority, risk and case type. This enables the trust leadership to have ‘live’ and transparent visibility of what’s happening with employee relations across the trust. The in-house people team are able to keep focus on transformative people matters, instead of being pulled into the reactive management of employee relations.
Head of HR Services
"I have always found the lawyers at Browne Jacobson willing to work differently with in house teams – genuinely collaborative in approach, willing to be flexible and think outside the box when trying to fix issues from live casework to recruitment and development of staff."
"A specialism in the educational sector is key to us. The excellent HR support we have received complements and supports the legal guidance superbly."
"Browne Jacobson have taken the time to understand our needs and preferred approach,’ one impressed client remarks, adding: ‘They are always accessible and we’ve never had to wait for a response, email or return call."
"They are flexible and will adapt their advice and style,’ notes one client, who also praises the lawyers for being ‘solutions-driven, knowledgeable and reliable."
You may be interested in...
New report highlights risk of sidelining ED&I in school trusts
Wellbeing and financial considerations – practical solutions for challenging times
Flexible working in schools webinar
Industrial action essentials: what you need to know
Trade unions announce plans to re-ballot members
Widespread industrial action now confirmed for schools
Industrial action and minimum service levels within education
Consultation on holiday entitlement – part-year and irregular workers
FAQs - converting to academy status
Rising Employment Tribunal backlog
Recruiting school staff on a budget – top tips
Regardless of the outcome of ballots on industrial action, unless there is drastic change to funding for schools in relation to pay increases, it will be unusual to find any organisational budget that is not impacted by the current economic situation.
Coming of age
Official statistics show that 15,336 claims which included a complaint of age discrimination were received at the Employment Tribunals between March 2020 and March 2021.
World Cup 2022 – how employers can avoid scoring an own goal!
The World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Sunday 20 November 2022, with the final taking place on Sunday 18 December 2022. Undoubtedly, this is a huge sporting event, and many employees will be keen to show their support for their favourite teams. However, due to the time difference, start times for the matches are between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. UK time, which could have an impact on employers if employees who wish to watch the matches are scheduled to work.
Law firm picks up record breaking sixth Education Investor Award
Browne Jacobson’s education team has been named as winner of the ‘Legal Advisors to Education Institutions’ category at the Education Investor Awards 2022 for a record sixth time.
Thousands take part in virtual careers event to help increase diversity in the legal profession
Over 3000 young people from across the UK and Ireland took part in a virtual legal careers insight event, aimed at making the legal profession more diverse.
Assaults on staff - how can schools reduce the risk?
The risk of assault against staff is, sadly, something that all schools need to consider carefully. Here one legal expert explains what they can do to protect staff and ensure they fulfil their duty of care.
IR35 rules here to stay after government U-turn
A few weeks ago we brought you news that following the Government’s mini-budget it was confirmed that the off-payroll working rules (known as “IR35”) put in place for public and private sector businesses from 2017 and 2021 would be scrapped from April 2023.
Lying on your CV – what can possibly go wrong?
The majority of people do not feel the need to embellish their CV to get that coveted position and move on up the career ladder. Their worthiness and benefit to the hiring organisation are easily demonstrated through the recruitment process – application, psychometric testing, selection day or interview.
School complaints culture and staff support
In this article we set out some of the support that's available to schools in a bid to reduce the overhead that complaints management generates.
Changes to holiday pay for part-year workers
In July 2022, the Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited Judgement in the case of Harpur Trust v Brazel relating to the correct calculation of statutory holiday pay for part year workers. This decision has implications for all part year workers on contracts which subsist all year round, whether their hours are normal or irregular.
Browne Jacobson’s market leading Education expertise recognised again in latest Legal 500 rankings
The new set of Legal 500 directory rankings have been published and we are proud to once again be recognised as one of the country’s leading firms advising the Education sector.
Internal reports and privilege
In University of Dundee v Chakraborty, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered whether a first draft of a grievance report could retrospectively be deemed to be privileged.
IR35 rules to be scrapped from April 2023
The Chancellor’s recent mini-budget provided a significant announcement for business as it was confirmed that the off-payroll working rules (known as “IR35”) put in place for public and private sector businesses from 2017 and 2021 will be scrapped from April 2023.
Revoking and reforming EU law
The Government has published the Retained EU Revocation and Reform Bill which, if passed, provides for the revocation of all “EU-derived subordinate legislation” (i.e. UK statutory instruments which were introduced to implement EU law) and retained direct EU legislation on 31 December 2023, unless legislation is specifically introduced to save them.
Employment Law – Harpur Trust v Brazel – Implications for schools webinar
On 20 July 2022, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited judgment in the case of Harpur Trust v Brazel, upholding the decision of the Court of Appeal. For those of you familiar with this case, you will know that it concerns the statutory leave requirements for part-time and part-year workers. For schools and academies whose workforce consists of a variety of types of part-time and part-year workers, this case is one that must be understood before any changes are applied. Come and join Emma Hughes, Head of HR Services as she puts questions to Ian Deakin, Employment Partner, and Sarah Linden, Senior Associate.
Covid-19 vaccine beliefs held to be religious in nature
In Wierowska v HC-One Oval Limited, the Employment Tribunal had to determine whether the Claimant’s beliefs in relation to Covid-19 vaccines amounted to religious beliefs for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
Unions bowled over by strike legislation
As of 21 July, two separate pieces of legislation came into force which seeks to mitigate against strike action. It should come as no surprise that this is a direct response to the rail strikes, which have dominated the news in the last couple of months.
Gender Identity v Gender Beliefs
We have seen a flurry of recent EAT and ET decisions demonstrating the difficulty that employers face in trying to balance different protected characteristics in the workplace. In this article, Lucinda Chaplin and Will Carter, associates in our employment team, explore the principles from these recent cases, and the workplace implications of them.
It's time for education to embrace flexible working
If NHS staff can request a flexible approach to working patterns then the sector needs to get serious about what it can offer staff, too, if it is to avoid further strain on recruitment and retention.
The Government confirms it has no plans to make menopause a protected characteristic
With menopause cases reaching Employment Tribunals at a record rate, there had been speculation about whether the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) could be amended to include specific protection for menopause.
Can long Covid amount to a disability?
On 7 May 2022, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) tweeted “Discussions continue on whether ‘long Covid’ symptoms constitute a disability. Without case law or scientific consensus, EHRC does not recommend that ‘long’ be treated as a disability.”
Long Covid and whether this amounts to a disability
The recent Employment Tribunal decision in Mr T Burke v Turning Point Scotland, Case no.4112457/2021 found that long-Covid amounts to a disability.
Menopause in the Workplace
Menopause has become an increasingly discussed topic, with high-profile women talking about their own experiences across a variety of media channels. As awareness is rising in the public arena, it has highlighted the question on how the menopause should be treated at work and what employers should be doing to support their employees affected by menopause.
Bill to establish an “Office of the Whistleblower”
Baroness Kramer has now introduced the Protection of Whistleblowing Bill as a Private Members’ Bill, starting in the House of Lords.
New mothers suffer a cumulative loss of income of £66,434 over the following decade
Independent think-tank, the Social Market Foundation (“SMF”), has launched a cross-party parliamentary commission on childcare and its implications for mothers.
New rules for Fit Notes
Where employees are absent from work due to sickness for more than 7 days, they need to provide reasonable medical evidence in respect of that absence for statutory sick pay purposes – this is most frequently satisfied through the provision of a Statement of Fitness for Work, otherwise known as a Fit Note.
80% hours for 100% pay? That’ll do nicely
As has been widely reported this week, some 3,000 UK workers are taking part in a six month trial to assess the viability of a four-day working week without any reduction in their normal pay.
The use and misuse of social media. Managing the impact of difficult behaviour
In this on-demand webinar, the second in our ‘Managing the impact of difficult behaviour’ series employment expert, James Tait and regulatory-specialist Ros Foster come together to discuss the use of social media and vexatious behaviour, and the tools that the law provides to help manage such situations.