From education to employment

Lecturer Wins Compensation and Spells Change for Millions of Part time Workers

A lecturer has been awarded a compensation payment of £25,000 in a landmark employment tribunal which could have immense implications for millions of employees on part ““ time contracts.

A University lecturer, Susan Birch, – who was employed on a part-time basis but taught more hours than her full-time colleagues for a lower level of remuneration – has been awarded £25,000 in compensation. This award is a record amount, and seems set to prove a landmark case for millions of workers employed in a number of sectors under similar conditions such as in education, building, catering and hospitality.

A Breakthrough for Employment Rights

The award marks the end of a drawn out dispute in which Susan has been staunchly supported by the University and College Lecturers” Union, NATFHE. The settlement is a breakthrough in efforts to win fair treatment for the hourly paid lecturers across both higher and further education. It successfully concludes a three year case against her employers, Leeds Metropolitan University (LMU) after which the university agreed to an unprecedented settlement just before the case was due to go to a final hearing.

Susan is due to be transferred to a full ““ time permanent contract after having worked at LMU for seven years as a lecturer in the teaching of English as a foreign language and as a teacher trainer, often working longer hours than her full – time colleagues. This often amounted to a deficit of up to £10,000 per year. She was also unable to take advantage of the same opportunities for career development. She is the first hourly paid UK teaching professional to take advantage of a new set of directives, Time Workers (Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

Strength Through an Ordeal

Speaking after the announcement, Susan Birch was understandably pleased and proud of her fortitude. She said: “I sought a fair deal after reading about new laws to protect part-time employees. My employers seemed sympathetic but said the university simply could not afford fractional contracts. Most colleagues were sympathetic, though the phrase “part-time” still conjures up “pin-money” in the minds of some grey-suited men of a certain age.

“It has been three years of immense pressure,” she continued, “but I simply could not accept such a patently unfair situation. Litigation is not for the faint-hearted or those acting alone, but I had the support of my union NATFHE, for which I am immensely grateful. The money will pay off debts but I hope this result will help the thousands of part-time staff in education who suffer similar discrimination. Now I just want to get on with my life and my career.”

Jethro Marsh

Read NATFHE and the TUC’s responses to the announcement right here at FE News!

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