Supreme Court rules in favour of lecturers' in relation to salary apportionment

Article

23 June, 2017

Hartley and ors. V King Edward VI College [2017] UKSC 39

On February 1 2017 the Supreme Court allowed an appeal by the Claimants in this case, who sought to challenge the Court of Appeal's ruling that strike pay should be calculated as 1/260.

The Claimants were lecturers at the Respondent College and had taken part in a full day of lawful strike action on 30 November 2011. On or around 31 January the following year, the College made deductions to their remuneration at a rate of 1/260 pursuant to a collective agreement which formed part of their contracts, namely the Conditions of Service Handbook for Teaching Staff in Sixth Form Colleges colloquially known as the Red Book entitling the College to make appropriate deductions in the event of lawful strike.

The College had calculated the figure to be 1/260 on the basis that teachers did not work weekends and bank holidays (365 days - weekends and bank holidays = total number of working days').

The Claimants initiated proceedings in the County Court on 24 April 2013 for breach of contract, on the basis that under the Apportionment Act 1870 the appropriate deduction was 1/365, as their salary accrued from day to day.

Whilst proceedings in the matter were ongoing, the case of Amey v Peter Symonds College [2013] was decided in the High Court, with almost identical facts to that of this case. As the High Court decision was binding upon these proceedings brought in the County Court, the case was dismissed, but the Claimants were afforded the right to Appeal directly to the Court of Appeal on the basis that Amey had been wrongly decided by the High Court.

One of the central issues which the Supreme Court considered, was in short, whether 'directed time' extended to tasks such as marking, planning and preparation; tasks which teachers and lecturers undertake outside of the 'working' week on evenings, weekends and public holidays.

The Court considered that the role of a teacher is a 'multi-faceted one' and that the 'undirected work is very important in its own right' and should be taken into account in the apportionment of a teacher's salary. Therefore Section 2 of the Apportionment Act 1870 applied and the correct division of a teacher's salary would be 1/365.

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