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All About Term-Time Working

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 3 Jan 2020 | comments*Discuss
All About Term-time Working

Term-time working is designed primarily to help parents of school-age children work only when their children are at school. That means giving them on average 13 weeks of time off per year, allowing them to be with their children during the summer, Christmas and Easter holidays, as well as during all half-term breaks.

If you think that sounds fantastic, it is - although the leave is unpaid. For many working mums, however, working term-time can be a godsend. Unfortunately, not many companies allow their employees to work term-time hours, so not a lot of parents can swing it.

Is it Worth it?

Parents considering term-time working have to think first about the financial considerations. You must take into account the amount of money you would spend on childcare during those 14 weeks, and subtract it from the amount of money you will lose by not working during that time.

  • Saving on childcare may make working term-time financially worth it, but then again it may not. Take into account that by earning less money you may fall into a different tax bracket, which may make the option more worthwhile than it would be otherwise.
  • Sometimes working term-time is not so difficult financially as it may appear. If one parent works part-time or freelance, for example, they may be able to work extra hours when the term-time working partner is off. That would help make up for the loss or earning you would incur.
  • Of course, parents do not work term-time purely for financial reasons. It gives working mums – and dads – 13 weeks on average to spend with their children, and allows them to go on long holidays with them they would otherwise not be able to have.
  • Some firms can hire in temporary employees who only work during term-term to do your work while you're away. That way, everyone benefits.

Asking your Employer

Term-time working has some benefits for employers, believe it or not. Still, getting a term-time job is still rare. Several larger companies, such as the BBC, Prudential, Shell UK and Littlewoods, offer the scheme to employees, as well as many non-profits and charities. But many don't.

More enlightened firms may seem offering term-time working as the moral thing to do, as well as a solid way to retain some employees who otherwise would leave to take care of their children. Some companies, especially those which are struggling or on tight budgets, may also welcome the chance to pay employees less, and not having to pay to recruit and hire new people.

Additionally, term-time working can engender loyalty among staff, and keep the staff attrition rare low. It also be beneficial when there is a project that needs to be completed within a specified period of time. Ask your employer if such a scheme exists at your job. If a precedent has already been set, you have a better chance. If not, find out why not.

Term-Time Facts

  • If you work term-time, it is not like seasonal employment. You will have the same rights, benefits and other considerations other employees have, and would keep the contract you had before you went term-time, with some revisions.
  • Most term-time employees are paid like teachers – they get their salary spread out throughout the year. So although you will earn less, there will not be long periods of time when you are earning nothing.
  • Some people choose to work only during term-time to save on childcare costs. This can be a great solution if one partner has term-time off, meaning you never have to get in childcare and you can make up for the loss of earnings they would incur by having the other partner work during that time.

Term-time working is a flexible way to work that can benefit parents of school-age children. Most term-time jobs are available only in the education sector, but more and more other businesses are realising the benefits of such a scheme. For parents striving to have a decent work/life balance, term-time working can provide exactly that.

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[Add a Comment]
If working term time is spread over the 12 month. Why can we not be entitled to free prescriptions and dental. We are earning less. I have been working in the same school for nearly 20 years and are really suffering with having to pay dental costs and prescriptions. I just cannot afford it.
Ash - 3-Jan-20 @ 8:11 PM
Hi. I work term time only in a nursery. We regularly hold events on Saturdays. One Saturday has fallen during the October half term (the half term is week beginning the 21st. The event is the 26th) My employer says that I still have to work this, is this right? Can they still make me work it? Thank you
Louise - 22-Oct-19 @ 10:53 AM
Hi I work term time only in a private tutor centre. My daughter arranged a surprise short break for me which meant I had to take 3 unpaid days leave from work. On top of not being paid my employer also stopped me the wages I would have earned had I been working deducting just over £100 from my pay and in effect paid someone else with that money to cover my hours is this allowed?
Jen - 14-Sep-19 @ 6:56 AM
I work term time only so dont work over Christmas. As I still get paid for bank holidays am I also entitled to Christmas day pay? Last school year I was paid pro-rata this year I'm not so I just want to know so I can make sure my wages are correct
L1982M - 2-Jan-19 @ 8:00 PM
Hi I work in school kitchen on the odd occasion like most I have to take my child to hosp etc in the school day as morning clinic etc even though the headmistress I persume cannot stop me going and I know I probably won't get paid my problem is every time I get the third degree and left feeling guilty and very upset even though I start work earlier than I should and happy to stay in feel emotional upset the way I'm spoken to what's my rights please
Smurf - 23-May-18 @ 7:50 AM
I am a working Mum I have a physically and mentally disabled husband and aautistic 13 year old son and an 11 year old daughter. I struggle keeping everything going with doing a lot for my husband and son. I work term time only at the moment but my job is saying it's not viable any more and need to work full time all year round what can I Do? What is my rights?
Nikki - 1-Feb-18 @ 9:02 PM
Need to know if i am still due a payrise when working term time
Sue - 5-Mar-17 @ 2:03 PM
Hi, How do I approach my employers with the subject of changing my hours to term time . In the last 6 months I have increase my hours to full time but I struggle to get child care as I'm a loan parent. Also would I be entitled to any adittional financial help if my wage goes down? Thanks
Myspace87 - 11-Jan-17 @ 11:48 PM
Hi I work term time only and only get paid for the weeks I work so during school holidays I don't get paid does anyone know if I am entitled to paid holidays Aswell if so how do I work out how many holidays I should get thanks
e2mckay - 27-Dec-15 @ 6:46 PM
@Lisa - it is a tricky subject and one that UNISON is trying to put a stop to with its arguments for full-year status , see link here. Unfortunately, this has not yet been succesful. I have included a link to Turn to Us here which can help you check whether you are eligible for any in-work benefits that will help bridge the financial gap. I hope this helps.
AWorkingMum - 11-Jun-15 @ 12:06 PM
Hi all! I have just found my perfect job...working term time as a kitchen assistant in my daughters school. However at the initial interview I was told that the wage ( minimum wage ) would have to be reduced to cover the school hols ... surely when a person is already on minimum wage they are not allowed to reduce it and have to put you on a higher starting rate to cover the amount reduced?... thanks in advance.
Lisa - 9-Jun-15 @ 7:09 PM
@Wby3 - was the term time working part of your contract, or was it something agreed between you and your employer? I think the best thing in this instance is to give UNISON a call as it has done a lot of work in this area, especially in schools. The contact number is at the bottom of the link herewhich you may find useful. ACAS also has a free employment helpline and can advise you on whether your employer is entitled to change the terms in your contract or not. I hope this helps.
AWorkingMum - 15-Jan-15 @ 10:41 AM
I have been working a term time contract for a few years however my employer has just restructured and has asked me to work full time. I am keen to work term time only. What advice would you give? Also, where do I start to look to see what term time jobs are available in my area? Any constructive advice would be welcomed.
Wby3 - 14-Jan-15 @ 5:48 PM
I work term time only at the moment please could I ask if I can carry this on after my son leaves school at 18 can I still do term time after this??
Jo - 26-Jun-14 @ 9:45 AM
The great advantage to working term-time (and it will generally be mothers who do it) is that you’ll have school holidays free to spend with your children, which is great when they’re younger. Once they’re well into their teens it won’t be necessary, of course, as they should be able to look after themselves (for which, read: sleep in late).
sara - 27-Sep-12 @ 1:21 PM
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