Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders


Salary sacrifice scheme

An extension of the 'salary sacrifice' scheme is making it possible for teachers to access a favourable tax arrangement on employer-provided benefits.

The fact that teachers' salaries were statutory meant that they could not lawfully opt to be paid less in order to receive computers, childcare and other benefits at a reduced rate of tax. This bar has now been removed.

Before setting up such a scheme, though, or encouraging participation in one, members should make sure that employees know that such a scheme will only be lawful if the salary is genuinely reduced and that such a reduction will have some effect upon pension.

Dismissal on racial grounds

It does seem that the case of a BNP councillor citing discrimination has been conclusively lost.

His claim was not upheld that sacking him from his job as a bus driver in an area where both workers and local residents were from minority ethnic groups was 'on racial grounds'.

This is likely to be helpful to schools and colleges in similar circumstances.

Though the BNP member may take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, it will be on the grounds of 'freedom of association' rather than a distortion of anti-racist legislation.

It is reassuring that the courts have found means to ensure that the intention of Parliament and common sense prevail.

National minimum wage

Please note that from 1 October 2006 the national minimum wage is set at:
5.35 per hour

18-21: 4.45 per hour
16-17: 3.30 per hour

Fixed term contracts

The initial date for counting the four years of fixed-term contracts that constitute permanent employment was July 2002. This will mean that some staff on fixed-term contracts may be able to claim permanent employment from this year.

Members should check whether any staff, such as learning support assistants employed to help pupils with special educational needs, will in fact qualify under this provision.

It is also a good time to check that staff on fixed term contracts have been kept fully informed of any vacancies and are not being discriminated against in applying for them.

Penalties for failure to keep on top of these issues can be significant: a mistake in recognising the status of what was thought to be a casual worker has recently cost a newspaper 30,000.

Governors' attendance

If you thought that it was a basic principle of governance that all governors should be present in person to vote on a question, think again. A school has procured an order, effective until May 2009, whereby its governing body may vote on issues from a distance. The power to innovate has some interesting implications.

Compulsory PRU

A parent who objected to a local authority policy that all excluded pupils should spend time at a pupil referral unit before returning to mainstream education has had an application for review of the decision rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Buggies and wheelchairs

A parent - who wished to bring a disabled twin into a school with the other twin in a double buggy - brought a case against the school under the Disability Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Act when it refused to allow the buggy to be parked in the building.

She lost the case. The judge concluded that there had not been unlawful discrimination and hence no human rights case either.

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