What is continuous service for teachers?


You might have heard of continuous service or continuous employment but might be unsure of what it is.

GOV.UK explains that continuous service is when an employee has worked for one employer without a break. 

The length of continuous employment gives certain rights to employees, including:

Continuous employment is calculated from the first day of work.

In this support article, we explain what continuous service is, what counts towards continuous service and look at examples of breaks in continuous service.

Which breaks in employment still count towards continuous service?

GOV.UK explains some breaks in normal employment still count towards a continuous employment period. These are:

  • Sickness, maternity, paternity, parental or adoption leave
  • Annual leave
  • Employment overseas with the same company
  • Time between unfair dismissal and an employee being reinstated
  • When an employee moves between associated employers
  • Military service, for example with a reserve force
  • Temporary lay-offs
  • Employer lockouts
  • When a business is transferred from one employer to another
  • When a corporate body gets taken over by another because of a legal change

GOV.UK notes that days when employees are on strike do not count towards continuous employment, but this is not treated as a break. 

For example, an employee works for 20 days, but for 5 of these days the employee is on strike – this only counts as 15 days’ continuous employment.

Examples of breaks in service

North Yorkshire Education Services has published guidance for schools and academies on the topic of continuous service.

It explains for service to be considered continuous, the employee must not have a period of at least 7 calendar days between employments, ending at midnight on a Saturday. This is the statutory definition of a break in service.

Usually, when moving between posts with their current employer, an employee’s service will be continuous, however, the situation may arise that an employee has a gap between one post and the next, possibly, for example, as the result of the end of a temporary contract. Where a break between roles does arise, consideration should be given to the reason for the end of the first contract and that the termination of this contract was dealt with lawfully.


A teaching assistant leaves their post in a school in York on Monday, 31st October, and starts employment with North Yorkshire County Council on Thursday, 10th November. Even though they have been out of employment for 9 days this does not constitute a break in service because the period did not include a week ending on a Saturday. They, therefore, retain their local government continuous service but, as they have moved to a new employer, lose their previous continuous service.

If you are an Edapt subscriber and you have a question about your continuous service you can contact us for advice and support.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.