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Conditions of Service in Northern Ireland


Links below lead to the appropriate section of the page

Teachers' Salaries and Conditions of Service Committee (Schools)

The Teachers' Salaries and Conditions of Service Committee (Schools) was established to reach agreement on teachers' pay and conditions of service of teachers in grant aided schools in Northern Ireland.

On 27 November 2007 the NASUWT submitted directly to the Education Minister a claim for substantial improvements in pay and conditions of service to secure parity with teachers in England and Wales. Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“The NASUWT has explored every option to seek to avoid industrial action but for years we have met nothing but delay, prevarication or failure to respond.

“It is scandalous that the commitment and effort put in by the dedicated teaching workforce in Northern Ireland still does not attract the level of reward and conditions of service benefits which are the norm for their teaching colleagues elsewhere. That the NASUWT has had no option but to conduct a national ballot to enforce these provisions rather than Ministers and Employers taking the initiative is equally scandalous.

“Teachers require working conditions to enable them to continue to raise standards. Failure to address the needs of teachers is equally a failure to address the needs of the pupils.”

Further information on pay issues is available on the NASUWT webpage Pay in Northern Ireland.

NASUWT Industrial Action 

Notices to employers of the action to be taken and the action instructions to members were issued at the beginning of January 2009. The action taken by NASUWT members has succeeded in putting in place measures that have now become the normal working practices in most schools. Further NASUWT national action short of strike action instructions were issued on 18 November to take effect from 1 December 2011. These practices have had a real impact on reducing teacher workload. It is, therefore, important that these gains are consolidated. 

In 2012, the NASUWT held a formal meeting with the Education Minister, John O’Dowd MLA, to discuss the Union’s national trade dispute and the actions needed to resolve the dispute. The meeting was cordial and generally positive, with the Minister open to discussing all aspects of the NASUWT trade dispute: pensions, pay, conditions of service, workload and job loss. The Union has written to the Minister since the meeting reiterating its concerns and setting out the next steps for resolution of the dispute. 

New action short of strike action instructions began on 26 September 2012 and can be found on the NASUWT industrial action website at www.nasuwt.org.uk/IndustrialAction.

Conditions of Service Document

Model circulars, issued by the Employing Authorities/employer representatives on teachers conditions of service are available from the Department of Education (new window) (DENI).

The Teachers' (Terms and Conditions of Employment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987 No. 267 (and Amendment Regulations 1988 No. 299) (new window) make provision as to the terms and conditions of employment of teachers in grant-aided schools and to peripatetic teachers. Other contractual changes, and agreed schemes and procedures, are normally issued by the employing authorities/employer representative bodies (new window), and further advice on these issues is available directly from them.

Policies and Procedures - TNC Circulars

Details of employment conditions and procedures (new window) can be found in the TNC circulars on the DENI website and some of the most commonly used are listed below. 


The Procedure For Handling Teacher Redundancies - TNC 2010/1 - PDF 30 KB (new window) and the Guidance for Handling Teacher Redundancies TNC 2010/1 Appendix I - PDF 30 KB (new window) provide the policy framework and guidance on how employers in Northern Ireland should handle teacher redundancies.

Teacher Attendance

The Teacher Attendance Procedure TNC 2008/2 (new window) and Teacher absence not exceeding three days - TNC 1990/32 - PDF KB (new window) policies seek to and provide guidance on recommended courses of action in respect of particular absences.

Bullying and Harassment

The Policy & Procedure to Combat Bullying & Harassment of Teachers including Principals and Vice Principals in Grant Aided Schools - TNC 2009/11 - PDF 643 KB (new window) sets out the procedures for a teacher to pursue a legitimate claim of bullying and/or harassment by another member of staff (teaching or support staff) within the context of their employment in the school. Annex III of the procedure - Bullying and/or Harassment by a Third Party Other than an Employee TNC 2011/4 - PDF 46 KB (new window) issued to all schools in September 2011, sets out the process to be followed where the complaint is in relation to bullying and/or harassment by a third party who is not an employee of the school.

Grievance and Mediation 

There is a Grievance Procedure TNC 2008/3 (new window) and a Mediation Procedure TNC 2008/6 (new window). The Mediation Procedure - TNC 2008/6 - PDF 38 KB (new window) replaces annex 1 of the Grievance Procedure and outlines the mediation principles and procedure which will be used by the employers' internal mediation team. It should be used in any Grievance or Bullying and Harassment cases.


The Disciplinary Procedure (new window) and Notes of Guidance on the Disciplinary Procedure TNC 2008/4 (new window) were issued to all schools on 22 April 2008. Members facing a charge under a disciplinary procedure should contact their Local Association Secretary or the Northern Ireland National Centre for support.

Performance Management

The Performance Review and Staff  Development (PRSD) - TNC 2009/10 - PDF 234 KB (new window) circular sets out the framework for the Performance Review and Staff Development Scheme which applies to all qualified teachers in grant-aided schools, other than teachers participating in induction and Early Professional Development.  

The Department of Education has also produced PRSD guidelines - PDF 207 KB (new window) on the scheme.

Family Friendly Rights

Documents outlining family friendly rights for teachers can be found in the Leave of absence (new window) section of the DENI website, including:

  • maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave and pay;
  • additional paternity leave and additional statutory paternity pay for teachers from 3 April 2011;
  • flexible working and job share arrangements;
  • career breaks;
  • teacher attendance and sick pay.

The Temporary Variation of Contract - TNC 2009/7 - PDF 108 KB (new window) policy seeks to facilitate a temporary change in working hours that cannot be accommodated by the above family friendly policies, such as the Teachers' Maternity Leave Scheme (new window).

The Department for Employment and Learning (DELNI) provide more general information and guidance on work and family rights for Working Parents and Carers (new window) and further guidance on pregnancy and maternity rights is available from DELNI in the booklet Pregnancy and Maternity Rights in the workplace (new window).

Advice on the legal requirements in assessing risks in relation to new and expectant mothers’ job activities is set out in the Health and Safety Executive webpages for New and Expectant Mothers at Work (new window).

The NASUWT produces guidance for members with children on the provisions for maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave. The guidance also contains information on rights to time off for family and domestic reasons.

Members have the right to apply to work flexibly under the terms of the Flexible Working Scheme (TNC 2009/6) (new window) where they have worked continuously for 26 weeks as a teacher in Northern Ireland at the date the application is made. They can only make one application in any 12 month period. In addition, teachers have a statutory right to make an application to work flexibly where they have:

  • children aged under 17;
  • disabled children aged under 18; or
  • carer responsibilities.

The NASUWT has produced general guidance on requesting Flexible working.

The NASUWT, through the Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council, successfully negotiated the opportunity for teachers to participate in salary sacrifice schemes for childcare vouchers/benefits, cycles for work and mobile phones. Information on the Salary Sacrifice Scheme are set out in Circular 2006/27 Teachers' Pay and Allowances from 1 September 2006 and 1 September 2007 (new window). There is a standard Salary Sacrifice Form on which employees can apply or express an interest.

Temporary workers and substitute teachers

Any teacher taking on a temporary or ‘fixed-term’ contract should consult the Union. The NASUWT also provides advice on the rights of Substitute (Supply) Teachers and Teachers working for employment agencies.

Further information or assistance

Members needing further information or assistance should contact their Local Association Secretary or the Northern Ireland National Centre.