Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Deducting pay for industrial action

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A recent case has determined how much may be deducted by an FE college for a day's industrial action. The college had argued that it should be 1/128 of annual salary (discounting paid holidays). The staff argued that it should be 1/260.

The judge concluded that the latter, which was what the staff were entitled to claim in the case of an unfair deduction of wages, was the correct figure for a deduction by the employer. It has already been determined by the House of Lords that an employer may deduct wages for a breach of contract arising from industrial action without suing for the loss.

It may be worth reminding members that an employer may deduct a day's pay for an imperfect fulfilment of contract as well as for a day's industrial action. The figure that may be deducted from a school teacher's salary, however, is 1/365, Cherie Booth QC having successfully argued that because the teacher's professional time (over and above the 195 days at the direction of a headteacher) is in theory unlimited, the full calendar year is the correct divisor. The issues of whether the law will take account of a leap year didn't arise.

The decision to deduct pay is a decision for employers, not for school management. This would appear to be the local authority for community and voluntary-controlled schools and the governing body for foundation and voluntary-aided schools.

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