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Term time

Term time working involves staff generally only working during school term time. This enables staff to balance childcare needs during school holidays and continue to be paid an annual salary in 12 monthly instalments.

Contracts can be worked over a differing number of weeks across the year and staff can work either full-time or part-time during term time. Service is continuous throughout the year.


  • Overcome childcare difficulties – staff who are parents or carers of school age children can overcome the difficulties of finding suitable childcare during the school holidays
  • Regular remuneration – the salary is paid over a twelve-month period on an equal basis so there is no time in the year when the staff member is financially less well off
  • Improved recruitment and retention – helps to attract and retain staff who might otherwise take a complete break from employment to look after their children
  • Peaks and troughs – there may be seasonal variation to work patterns in some roles and departments. Term time working enables more staff to be in work during busy periods and a reduction of staff during quieter periods

Points to consider

  • Is the staff member aware of the reduced salary implications? Term time working will mean a reduction in salary which may also affect contributions and final pension
  • How will work be covered or distributed when the staff member is not at work? Could an annualised hours contract be used to help with this?
  • Is there any impact on provisions for cover or annual leave arrangements when the member of staff is not at work? How can these be overcome?

Work hours and patterns

The number of weeks worked will vary according to the needs of the service and member of staff. Term time contracts are typically either 38, 39 or 40 weeks.

Agreement of what hours will be worked during term time will need to be confirmed with the member of staff and manager prior to the term time contract starting.

Staff on term time contracts take their annual leave during school holidays. See 'After agreeing a request' below for more information on this.


Term time contracts involve a reduction in salary for the time spent out of the organisation and extended unpaid holidays to coincide with school holiday periods. Salary is usually paid in 12 monthly instalments.

Staff are paid for the number of 'term weeks' that they work, plus their annual leave/bank holiday entitlement.

Example: staff on 39 week term time contracts will be paid for the 39 weeks when they are at work plus their annual leave/bank holiday entitlement accrued. Their salary is averaged out over 12 months to ensure they receive a salary every month of the year.

For support with calculating the annual leave entitlement for a term time member of staff, please contact 'firstcontact' on:

Staff will need to determine the following, in order to receive an appropriate level of salary averaged out over a 12 month period:

  • How many hours per week will they want to work?
  • How many term weeks are there?
  • When they wish for the contract to start
  • How much annual leave they have already taken in the current financial year (if the starting point is part way through the year)

Important note: if a term time contract begins part way through a year, pay would need to be calculated pro-rata to account for this. Where the contract ends part way through a year, the final payment would be adjusted to ensure that the member of staff has been paid for the days that they have worked up to the termination. 

Before agreeing a request

Review how the service is delivered to identify any peaks and dips throughout the year and when they occur.

Supporting members of staff who are parents or carers and could benefit from term time working can help retain talent and knowledge within the service.

Decide how hours could be worked throughout the year (e.g. agreed working patterns or core hours with flexibility included).

Has the member of staff decided to work a 38, 39 or 40 week pattern and when are the term time dates?

Identify how staff will record the hours that they worked or are owed and how regularly this need to be reviewed. Working time directives still need to be adhered to in relation to the maximum number of hours worked in a week.

After agreeing a request

Once a term time request has been agreed, the member of staff's annual leave entitlement will be paid to offset some of their unpaid leave during the school holidays. This is because they take their paid annual leave during the school holiday period and not during term time. If time off during term time is needed, this is taken as unpaid leave and would need to be discussed and approved by the line manager.

Hours worked and time off should be regularly reviewed and monitored. The agreed request must be reviewed annually.

Practical tips

Term time working pattern need to be set on SMART/Allocate. The member of staff will show as having TOIL each week during non-holiday weeks. This is because they will be working for a higher number of hours per non-holiday week than they are being paid for (e.g. working 25 hours per week but being paid for 21.62 hours). However, they do not actually accrue this TOIL as these hours are built into the calculations.

For further support on recording hours accurately please contact the e-rostering team.

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