Fixed term contracts are very common in the teaching profession in Ireland.
This is due to a number of factors including
• The DES (Department of Education and Skills) sanctioning temporary teaching posts for a school year, rather than approving permanent posts or contracts of longer duration
• Teachers taking leave from the school on a career break, maternity leave, sick leave, carer’s leave, parental leave, job sharing, secondment etc. with the subsequent need for the school authority, such as the Board of Management, to find a replacement.
This replacement will be given a fixed term contract.
The teacher’s contract of employment will be with the managerial authority of the school such as the VEC committee or Board of Management.
In the primary education sector the Board of Management of the school will be the employer, even though the teacher is paid by the DES.
For Boards of Management in the Primary education sector, all the normal rules and laws discussed elsewhere on this site apply when granting a fixed term contract. Additionally, there may be the requirement to make a job offer subject to certain conditions, eg
- approval of the Patron (where necessary),
- Garda vetting,
- registration with the Teaching Council,
- a certificate to teach Religious Education (if appropriate),
- pre employment medical screening by Medmark,
- and approval of the Minister for Education and Skills.
See also equality and discrimination in the workplace which sets out the legal grounds for schools to discriminate on religious grounds when taking on employees.
Fixed term contracts for teachers will fall into one of two categories:
• Fixed term where the duration of the contract is known or
• Specified purpose contract where the end date may be uncertain (such as maternity leave cover or illness cover).
Fixed term contracts for teachers will normally not exceed the school year, which runs from 1st September to 31st August.
It is critically important for the Board of Management to inform the teacher in the contract why they are being employed on a temporary basis, rather than being offered a permanent contract or a contract of indefinite duration, and how the contract will be determined/terminated.
Here is an example of a clause you may use when granting a contract to a teacher who will be covering for a teacher on a career break:
This contract is a Fixed-Term Contract of …. duration and is offered due to the absence of a permanent teacher in the school who is currently on career break. The contract will end on the termination of the career break. A career break can be sanctioned for a period of 1 year with annual application to renew up to 5 years.
In addition, where the Board decides to renew a fixed term contract, it is vital to inform the teacher in writing beforehand why it is not offering a permanent contract and to set out the objective justification for this.
This notice in writing should be given to the teacher at the latest by the date of renewal.
Renewal of Fixed Term Contracts
Renewal of a fixed term contract may lead to the entitlement to a contract of indefinite duration arising. (Click the link to see the circumstances where a CID may arise)
All of the other protections and obligations arising from the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003 will, naturally apply.
(See Department of Education and Skills-employing a teacher )
For a more detailed look at fixed term contracts…
Recommended: Education Law in Ireland
Haddington Road Agreement and Contracts of Indefinite Duration
The Haddington Road agreement saw some significant changes brought some significant changes to a teacher’s right to a CID and reduced the service requirement from 4 years to 3.