Case Studies

Fractionalisation in an FE college

Yvonne was an HPL at an FE college for 12 years. For six years, her employment had been substantive and consistent, with very little variation in terms of hours and types of courses taught (average 0.7 FTE). The majority of her contracted hours (as opposed to sick cover and summer school work) were to teach courses funded by the Skills Funding Agency in exactly the same way as her Main Grade Lecturer colleagues. This funding and therefore staffing requirement is determined in advance, usually in March for the next academic year.

In June 2011 there was a redundancy pool in Yvonne’s department which she was not included in. There were zero redundancies amongst the Main Grade Staff, but unlike in previous years, Yvonne’s teaching hours for 2011-12 were not determined by the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.

In August 2011, Yvonne was not timetabled for any teaching, nor was she contacted by HR to notify her of redundancy.

It was not until the end of November 2011 that Yvonne was given notice of redundancy. This left her with a complete loss of salary for three months with no redundancy compensation. However, her redundancy notice was backdated to the beginning of the academic year, so although she received the notice at the end of November, the actual date of notice was the end of August. It could appear that this was an attempt by the employer to prevent her from claiming unfair dismissal at tribunal. Nevertheless, Yvonne made an Employment Tribunal application on the basis of Breach of Contract, Unfair Dismissal, Less Favourable Treatment of Part-time Workers and Less Favourable Treatment of Fixed Term Workers.

Throughout this time, the employer maintained that Yvonne’s zero hour contract allowed them to not only keep her on zero hours without making her redundant, but also select her for redundancy over and above her Main Grade colleagues.

Resolution

The employer made an offer to settle the day before the first Tribunal meeting. Yvonne agreed to a payment of a proportion of what she would have earned during the three months she was out of work, and negotiated a 0.5 Main Grade Lecturer, permanent contract to take effect a week after signing the compromise agreement.

During these negotiations, the employer maintained that the zero hour contract, as used to employ HPLs in FE colleges, is a nationally agreed contract and allows employees to be on zero hours without triggering redundancy.

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