Teachers win Supreme Court case in landmark ruling over 'unfair' pay deductions

Supreme Court decision could affect all teachers working in sixth form colleges, ensuring too much pay is not lost due to strike action

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Wednesday 24 May 2017 17:02 BST
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The ruling brings sixth form teachers’ rights up to date with staff in primary and secondary education
The ruling brings sixth form teachers’ rights up to date with staff in primary and secondary education

A group of teachers have won a “landmark victory” against their employer, after having too much pay deducted from their annual salaries.

The Supreme Court decision follows a lengthy legal battle involving three teachers at King Edward VI College in Stourbridge, who took part in a union-led strike in 2011 over changes to public sector pensions.

The sixth form college deducted their pay by an amount equivalent to 1/260th of their annual salary – proportionate to the number of working days in the school year.

However, Supreme Court judges ruled on Wednesday that only 1/365th should have been taken.

The ruling brings sixth form teachers’ rights up to date with staff in primary and secondary education, and means any college staff taking part in future industrial action must be paid accordingly.

It is believed that similar cases may surface against schools and colleges as a result.

Ms Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “The Supreme Court ruling is a landmark victory for teachers’ rights across the UK.

“Time and time again employers have sought to use the 1/260th deduction instead of the deduction of 1/365th that the NASUWT has always maintained was the correct calculation.

“The NASUWT has pursued this issue doggedly since 2011. While others gave up, we continued to fight this important principle, not only for the teachers at King Edward VI College in Stourbridge, but also for all those in 6th Form colleges.

“We will now be seeking reimbursement of the monies unlawfully deducted from our members.”

After the teachers were deducted 1/260th of their pay, the NASUWT teaching union issued a claim to the County Court in 2013.

Following a High Court ruling in favour of an employer, on a similar but unrelated case brought by another union, the NASUWT took their case to the Court of Appeal.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court in February this year, and the previous ruling was overturned.

Graham Baird, director of HR services for the Sixth Form Colleges Association, said: “After several years of uncertainty, we welcome the clarity provided by the Supreme Court’s ruling and fully accept the decision.

“We will consider the implications of this judgement in more detail and will consult with all parties involved before issuing guidance to our members.”

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