Supply teaching: What are my rights?

supply teaching

Teacher Active share the inside scoop on the rights of a supply teacher to help existing staff or newcomers enter the profession

The benefits of supply teaching are numerous. Not only are you beginning a new flexible career, but you will also find your teaching life is more varied than ever before. However, as with any roles in the so-called “gig economy”, there is a degree of uncertainty and this is very evident when it comes to your workers’ rights and responsibilities.

While your worker rights are not as clear as when you’re in full time or permanent employment, your employer still has responsibilities and so do you.

Why supply?

Supply teaching can be tough. While every day is totally unpredictable, building a rapport with students, who you may not see regularly can also be a challenge. Despite the challenges, however, supply teaching is also hugely rewarding with more variety and flexibility than ever before. It’s important to remember that your rights and responsibilities are still legally binding, despite the unpredictable nature of your job.

Your employment rights – the 12-week period

While your pay conditions may be slightly different initially, after 12-weeks of service in a school you are covered by the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document. This means your agency is responsible for providing you with the same basic pay and conditions you would receive if you were employed directly by the school.

Of course, this covers pay but also includes the same basic lunch breaks, hours of work and paid time off too. Your school also has the same responsibilities towards you under any health and safety legislation.

The 12-week rule may not be widely publicised, so ensure that you confirm the details with your agency or an authority at your school. The key details to remember are:

  • The 12 weeks starts from the first day of your placement;
  • You do not have to work full time for the week to count towards your 12 weeks;
  • If you are absent due to sickness or injury, the 12-week period is paused rather than reset and;
  • If you have a break of more than six weeks you will restart the 12-week period.

Remember from day one, your school must allow you access to the same facilities and amenities as permanent members of staff. This can include access to the staff room, parking and the canteen too.

A question of pay and conditions

Salary is obviously an important issue that will require negotiation between you, the school and your agency if applicable. Obviously, you will receive a different scale of pay during your 12-week period but once you qualify for equal treatment, you will not be given back pay for the qualifying period.

When it comes to pregnancy, maternity and paternity, things get a little more complicated. If you are pregnant, your school must offer paid time off for appointments after your initial 12 weeks. However, it’s important to note that you will not be entitled to maternity pay while employed by an agency.

Other exemptions include pensions and holiday pay. You will not be enrolled to contribute to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme either while employed by an agency. However, you will be entitled to holiday pay but again this is after the 12 weeks.

So, what are my responsibilities?

As with any set of rights, you will have contractual responsibilities to adhere to as well. Supply teachers as well as permanent teachers alike, have to adhere to the STPCD (school teachers pay and conditions) guidelines and this will be expected by your employer.

Key duties supply teachers must adhere to include:

  • Communicating with parents and carers;
  • Contributing to the school’s development and implementing school policies and procedures and;
  • Working outside the timetabled day if required.

There may be instances where you are not employed in accordance with the STPCD, in which case your working hours, responsibilities and overall contract should be worked out with the school – be sure to check the small print though.

Finally, you are also responsible for enforcing the school’s health and safety policies and vice versa the school is responsible for your safety – regardless if you’re supply staff or not.

Teacher Active 


  1. HI

    I have worked at the same Primary School for nearly two years for 2 days a week. Can you please inform me of my rights?

    Although I have been asked on numerous occasions I do not want a contract at the school. The finance lady at the school has mentioned that after 2 years I may automatically have a contract and it might not be as easy for me to leave should I wish to.

    Please can you advise.

    Kindest Regards

    Lisa Henry


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