Are teachers paid for the holidays?

As Boris Johnson should say more often: everything I’m about to say applies to England only.

Of course, equally, academies are free to set their own terms and conditions so may have imposed other terms on staff.

So, are teachers paid for the holidays?

Well, the short answer is Yes. But that’s not an entirely popular answer. There’s a (perfectly understandable) misconception that teachers are only paid for their teaching weeks, and that this pay is then spread over 12 months for convenience.

When I suggested otherwise, I brought an onslaught of opposition – mostly perfectly polite. Obviously one person exclaimed that they’d hate to work for me, so that’s a lucky escape for at least one of us.

Teachers’ conditions are notoriously tricky, so I’ll try to set out all the many reasons why I think it’s clear that teachers are paid for the holidays, but before I do, let me be clear what I’m not saying.

  • I don’t think teachers should work through their holidays this summer
  • I don’t think teachers are paid too much.
  • I don’t think teachers don’t work in the holidays
  • I don’t think teaching is easy, or that teachers only work 9-3
  • I don’t think that being paid for the holidays means we’re being paid for 13 weeks of doing nothing.

It’s also worth noting that when teachers pay scales are set, the fact that we have good holidays will be factored in to that to some extent.

However, none of that changes the fact that teachers pay is not pro-rata and then spread across the year: we are paid all year round, including receiving 13 weeks paid holidays.

So where’s the evidence?

School Teachers Pay & Conditions Document

The STPCD is remarkably unhelpful on this, because the only limits set on teachers hours are the 1265-hour limit on directed time. This is the calculation of the hours that headteachers can direct teachers’ work and includes teaching, assemblies, PPA, duties, meetings, etc. Basically anything that requires you to be in school.

But paragraph 51.7 also makes clear that this is not the maximum amount of time a teacher must work; far from it. Teachers must work whatever reasonable additional hours are necessary. So, clearly teachers must be paid for more than 1265 hours work.

Now, let me also be clear that I think there’s a massive workload problem in the profession, but that’s not because of our pay & conditions; it’s because of poor leadership that demands more of teachers than is helpful or necessary.

But anyway, if there isn’t a 1265-hour limit, perhaps the 195 days is what matters? Could it be that teachers are paid for 195 days and not for all the others?

Burgundy Book

Most teachers, even those in academies, are still employed under the Burgundy Book conditions, or a very similar set of arrangements.

Again, unfortunately, the conditions are not explicit about holiday, but there is something of relevance here. If a teacher is permitted to take unpaid leave (or has to have a day’s unpaid leave because of strike action), then the deduction made from the salary is 1/365th of that teacher’s annual salary. This is because salary is accumulated in equal instalments of 1/365th each day of employment. 

This particular example was tested when a sixth form college tried to deduct 1/260th of pay for strike days (based on 260 weekdays a year), and the case referred to the Burgundy Book which clearly sets out the requirement.

So, it’s clear that when it comes to deductions from pay, we are treated as being paid 1/365th of our salary for each day of the year, regardless of whether it’s a teaching day or holiday day.

That’s not to say that teachers can be made to work 365 days a year, any more than any employee can be made to work on their holiday days; but it does make clear that pay accrues daily.

It’s tempting to conclude that this is all because teachers’ pay is spread across 12 months but there are several other examples of practice which suggests that pay is year-round for teachers. 

Comparisons to other school staff

There are many school staff who are on term-time only contracts. These staff usually are paid for only the weeks they work, plus their statutory leave entitlement. They end up on a “pro rata” salary, even if they work full-time hours during their working weeks.

When a teaching assistant, office administrator or school business manager post is advertised, if it is a term-time only contract, the employee will not earn the same as other full-time staff who work for local authorities on the identical pay scale.

This is what teachers often think happens, but teachers’ pay is not calculated this way at all. It explains why a teacher who works the whole of the autumn term, which could feasibly be 15 teaching weeks, gets exactly the same 4 months pay as a teacher who works a term from 1 May to 31 August, with as little 10 weeks teaching.

Ask any school business manager how complicated it can get calculating a teaching assistant’s final pay packet!

Comparison to school leaders

The 1265-hour/195-day limits only apply to main/upper scale teachers. Once a teacher moves onto the leadership scale, those limits are removed. But as many teachers who have made the move into leadership will know, the gap between those scales is not large.

In fact, a teacher on UPS3 and a small TLR might be earning around £43,000. Moving on to the first 2 points of the leadership scale means taking a pay cut, while at the same time losing that protected limit on time. But with the removal of the 195 day limit, school leaders don’t get a different holiday entitlement, or a significant uplift in pay to reflect their year-round status, because it’s no different from other teachers.

Teachers on the leadership scale are still entitled to their legal minimum of holiday, and must still take it during the 13 closure weeks for which they are paid.

Legal Entitlement

Firstly, all employees in the UK are entitled to the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of paid leave. So somewhere in teachers’ paid holidays must be those 5.6 weeks (or their pro rata equivalent if your argument is that we’re not paid for 52 weeks). 

If it were the case that teachers were actually paid for the legal minimum of holiday entitlement, then something would have had to have changed in 2009. Up until then, the legal entitlement was 24 days (which can include bank holidays). When it changed to 28 days, teachers would have been entitled to an additional 4 days pay. But they weren’t, because they are considered already to have 13 weeks’ paid leave, in excess of the statutory minimum.

This is partly the cause of the confusion: because teachers can take anything between 5.6 weeks and 13 weeks paid leave, there is no need to specify exactly how much leave is taken; teachers are left to make their own judgments on the matter.

[In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that any effort to pin this down would be to the detriment of teachers]

Comparisons to other professions

Setting the 2009 change aside, if teachers are only paid for, say, 44 weeks a year (39 school weeks + 5 weeks holiday), then we need to account for that in salary scales. Either we can argue that teachers start on a disappointing salary of £24,373, or that teachers are paid pro-rata their actual salary of £28,164.

Now you might argue that that’s still not high enough, but we can’t as a profession claim that we’re not being paid for the holidays, and claim the lower pay rate.

My personal view is that being paid for the 13-weeks holidays is reasonable because teachers work very long hours in term time. I think any argument about pay and conditions would be better focused on workload, or raising pay based on it being for all 52 weeks.

What about supply teachers?

It’s true that supply teachers who are paid through a local authority or school are entitled to 1/195th of the annual salary for each day worked. That’s not because all teachers are only paid that way, but because – as with all jobs – people doing equivalent jobs shouldn’t be disadvantaged just because they’re part-time or supply. A supply teacher teaching 195 days is entitled to the same annual pay as a teacher teaching 195 days. Their holiday pay is wrapped up in the daily rate.

But my payslips says…

I *think* mine says 32.5 hours. Some people say theirs say 27.5, or 26… or some other number. Given that most teachers are employed under the same rules, that should in itself highlight how meaningless those figures are.

They’ll almost all be based on some random calculation of the 1265 hours, which we’ve already ruled out as being relevant. I guess the reason your payslip says whatever it says is because no payroll software allows them to enter “all the hours under the sun” in that box.

Yeah, but, what do you know?

It’s true: I’m just some bloke of Twitter. You might still think I’m wrong. In which case, you could refer to the NEU who point out in their guidance for support staff that teachers are paid for a full year:


Or you could refer to Croner-i (the business & HR experts) who make clear that non-teaching days are regarded as paid leave:


Teachers work really long hours, though, including in the holidays

Yes. None of this affects the fact that teachers work hard in term time, and continue to work through the holidays.

Most of the data suggests that teachers typically work around 50 hours a week in term time, well above the 1265 directed hours, and above the working hours of the typical employee. 

You might reasonably argue that in working such long hours over fewer weeks, that teachers work a similar number of hours overall to any other profession of similar standing – or possibly more. 

You might also reasonably argue that teachers deserve the longer paid holidays to make up for the very long hours.

You can also argue that teachers’ pay rates are held down because of the perception of the good holidays, and that we need to challenge that and raise teacher pay.

But that doesn’t change the fact that teachers are paid for their holidays.


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12 thoughts on “Are teachers paid for the holidays?

  1. Virendra Patel 12 June 2020 at 9:44 pm Reply

    Brilliantly expounded. Discovered about the burgundy book when inadvertently becoming a NUT(NEU) rep just a few years before I semi-retired. Enjoyed being a rep and it was an eye opener for me. Represented a few members during the short spree. I remember saying in jest going for holidays during term time and coming to work during holidays. Workwise, agree it’s called directed time, however seems like an infinite boundary. Used to be last person to leave college around 8 pm. Then work at home until midnight and sometimes to 2 am marking exam papers. Worked through all term holidays apart from Xmas. Plus operating my retail business/businesses in addition to all of this. Missed out on promotion to director because I was working till late in the evenings, even though it was of my own volition. Must say had a thoroughly great time in the teaching profession and still continuing as a supply teacher!!!

  2. paulmartin42 13 June 2020 at 4:53 am Reply

    Working hours of Support Staff
    As you point out Janitors/Cleaners/.. are often on term time contracts (and worse). As a result the notion that so and so can be done in the summer holidays requires HR to do some trickery – if only they hadn’t been corner cutting before

  3. I really don’t get your point. Why have you made it? Who argues we don’t? When teachers move jobs to start in September they do not then miss out on 5 weeks pay.
    As is the case if I leave any job with holiday accrued, I would expect to receive the monetary equivalent.
    So, teachers are paid through their holidays as with regular full time contracts.

    • Michael Tidd 13 June 2020 at 6:43 am Reply

      Take a look at the 130 replies to my tweet suggesting this to see how many people argue we don’t.

  4. ACroce 13 June 2020 at 8:46 am Reply

    mcjogle – lost of teachers are claiming teachers do not get paid for August as an argument as to why they shouldn’t teach children who have missed a couple of months of school this year during August. Teachers shouldn’t teach children during August in England because if lockdown is lifted children need to be outside playing and socialising, not sitting at a desk being fed facts.

  5. JV 14 March 2021 at 9:56 pm Reply

    This really is rambling…that is interesting- apparently we’re employed 365 days a year- so includes all weekends too… ( minimum wage???) also- when I tried to ask for my holiday “allowance” after I returned from maternity leave – which was in the October- I was told explicitly… you don’t get paid for holidays- you don’t accumulate holiday pay ( which sort of made sense to me as I worked as a payroll manager before teaching – at the time the wtd came in and holidays in some instances had to be earned at rates of working 12 weeks to accrue one week- which our 195 days don’t enable us to do) so… if this ramble is correct- there’s a whole load of women who are owed our accumulated holiday pay earned during maternity leave- like all other employees on permanent contracts… those paid over the whole year.

    • Michael Tidd 14 March 2021 at 11:49 pm Reply

      You should be careful about confusing my explanation with your ability to understand.
      If, as you surmise, teachers don’t get paid at all for their holidays currently, then there’s upwards of half-a-million teachers who should sue for their entitlements under the legislation that entitles all employees to paid holiday.
      Teachers can – theoretically at least – accrue holiday entitlement during maternity, but given an interpretation that allows it to be carried over to another year, their combination of potentially 56 days’ leave (28 from maternity plus 28 from the following year) can still be taken during the next academic year, so the point is moot. It only becomes relevant if a teacher does not return to teaching after their leave. There used to be a very good page explaining this on the Local Government Employers website, sadly no longer publicly available.

  6. KK Lawhon 21 January 2022 at 7:10 pm Reply

    Teachers are not paid for holidays. They are paid per day of their contract. If they miss a day they are docked that per day amount of their contract. So if I work 190 contract days I am paid a certain amount per day. That amount multiplied by 190 comes to a total that is then divided by 12 and paid to me in 12 installments monthly. But it used to not be that way. We got paid more each month over the 9 months that we worked. They decided it would be easier budget wise to pay us the same amount monthly for the period of a year rather than 9 months. So I FOREGO pay on nine months of paystubs to have some leftover to give me on the 3 months of “holiday”. So in essence I am taking from my own savings bank to pay myself…it’s just a forced savings by my employer. They withhold some of my money to give to me later when I am not having to report to work. So do not misunderstand that I am somehow being paid by anyone other than MYSELF over holiday. What a twit.

    • Michael Tidd 21 January 2022 at 7:38 pm Reply

      This would be an excellent answer if only it hadn’t already clearly been disproven within the blog. As is clearly explained, teachers deductions for, eg strike days and other absences are made at the 1/365 rate. Which you’d know if you’d read and understood the blog. As it is, you’ve just made yourself look a bit of a twit.

  7. KK Lawhon 21 January 2022 at 7:12 pm Reply

    “Well, the short answer is Yes. But that’s not an entirely popular answer. There’s a (perfectly understandable) misconception that teachers are only paid for their teaching weeks, and that this pay is then spread over 12 months for convenience.” Except it’s not a misconception…that actually IS the case. LOL

  8. Kathryn 29 March 2022 at 6:27 pm Reply

    I’m not sure I agree with your argument about supply teachers. Most agencies pay teachers between £90-150 per day. Even if a supply teacher were to work all 195 days (which is extremely unlikely anyway) and be paid the highest rate, they would still only bring home
    £29,250. Which is considerably below the £41,604 rate a permanent teacher on UPS3 working 195 days would earn.

    • Michael Tidd 30 March 2022 at 12:16 am Reply

      I was careful to note in that paragraph that I was talking about supply staff paid through the school/LA, rather than agency staff

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