Understanding the differences between sick pay allowances for teachers and support staff is crucial for any school or trust. These vary according to the employee’s length of service and entitlements under the Burgundy Book and the Green Book, respectively.
Most schools and trusts comply with the national terms for occupational sick pay - for support staff this is governed by the Green Book and for teachers the Burgundy Book. For both, in national terms, occupational sick pay increases with length of service, but one of the main differences between these schemes is the reference period used to calculate the entitlements.
Green Book for support staff
The Green Book, for support staff, uses a rolling 12 months to assess an absent employee’s entitlement to pay. The employer should establish if there have been any absences during the 12 months preceding the first day of absence. Where there have been, these are deducted from the relevant entitlement.
As a reminder, teaching assistants' sick pay falls under the Green Book and differs from teachers. Anyone in schools that isn't a teacher (Teachers include: Heads, Deputy Heads and Assistant Heads) is considered a support staff member.
An overview of support staff sickness entitlement
|During the first year of service
|1 month full pay and, after completing 4 calendar months service, 2 months half pay
|During the second year of service
|2 months full pay and 2 months half pay
|During the third year of service
|4 months full pay and 4 months half pay
|During the fourth and fifth years of service
|5 months full pay and 5 months half pay
|After five years’ service
|6 months full pay and 6 months half pay
Burgundy Book for teachers
The scheme for teachers, under the Burgundy Book, uses a fixed reference period from April to March. However, should a teacher remain off sick after 31 March, their entitlement doesn’t commence again until they return to work. Therefore, it can be challenging to manage a teacher's sickness absence, particularly when they attempt to return to work on or after 1 April.
Should their return to work be unsuccessful and they subsequently go off sick again, their entitlement to full and half occupational sick pay will be reinstated. Of course, as is the case with all sickness absences, any return to work should be managed carefully.
An overview of teachers' sick pay
Dates for calculating entitlement
Another significant difference between the schemes is the date used to calculate the entitlement:
- Green Book (support staff) – uses the employee’s continuous service date
- Burgundy Book (teachers) – a year is deemed to begin 1 April and end 31 March the following year. Note that teachers are governed by aggregated service, not continuous service
(e.g. for a teacher who takes up their first teaching appointment in September 2023, the first year of service runs from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024. From 1 April 2024, the teacher is in their second year of service).