What should be in my employment contract?


As a member of school staff you will want to be familiar with your employment contract. This will include details on how much you are paid, your terms and conditions of employment, working hours and more details.

You may be employed on the terms of the The School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document or you could work at an independent school with their own terms of employment, which might outline details on accommodation or reduced fees for your own children, for example.

If you are an Edapt subscriber, you can contact us to clarify any information in your employment contract you are unsure about.

In this article, we outline information from ACAS and Citizens Advice on employment contracts, what to do if you have a concern with your employment contract and link to examples of teacher contract templates.

What is an employment contract?

ACAS explains that an employment contract is a legal relationship between an employer and an employee.

By law, an employer must provide anyone who’s classed as an employee with the terms of their employment in writing (a ‘written statement of employment particulars’).

This document must contain a summary of the main terms of employment, such as pay and working hours.

This document is often referred to as the ’employment contract’. But by law, the employment contract is broader than just these written terms.

For example, employment law is also part of an employee’s contract but usually the law will not be written in full in the document.

When does an employment contract begin?

ACAS explains an employment contract begins when the employee starts work, even if there’s nothing in writing.

The contract might begin even earlier if all the following apply:

  • Someone accepted the job offer verbally or in writing
  • The offer was unconditional or the person met all the conditions (for example, the employer was satisfied with their references)
  • The employer set out the terms of the job in a clear and definite way, verbally or in writing

We have published another article which outlines what you can do if your job offer is withdrawn.

Terms of an employment contract

ACAS explains an employment contract is made up of:

  • Specific terms agreed in writing (‘express terms’), such as the employee’s pay and working hours
  • Terms that are part of employment law (‘statutory terms’)
  • Terms too obvious to be written (‘implied terms’) – it can still be a good idea to put these in writing, so everyone’s clear about their rights and responsibilities
  • Terms put into the contract from other sources (‘incorporated terms’) such as a staff handbook or an agreement affecting many employees

What should I do if part of my employment contract is broken?

Citizens Advice explains a contract can be broken if either you or your employer doesn’t follow a term in the contract. This is known as a ‘breach of contract’. For example, if you’re dismissed and your employer doesn’t give you the amount of notice you’re entitled to under your contract, this would be a breach of contract.

If your employer breaks your contract, you should try and sort the matter out with them informally first.

If this doesn’t work, you could try raising a grievance against your employer. We have written another article on the topic of how to raise a grievance here.

Employment contracts: examples from schools

The Robinwoods Academy Trust has a template contract for teachers employed ‘all year round.’ It explains:

“You must comply with all Trust policies and rules from time to time in place, in particular our safeguarding children rules, information technology/internet, social media rules/policies, our Code of Conduct and health and safety rules, policies and any risk assessments. You may obtain copies of Trust policies from the Trust’s website. Unless otherwise expressly stated, Trust policies are not contractual.”

Southampton City Council has a template contract for teachers. It states:

“Your duties and responsibilities are set out in the current School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document, Teacher Standards as applicable and in your job description. Please note that the school reserves the right to update your job description from time to time to reflect changes in or to the job in consultation with you.”

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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.