Unpaid overtime in schools


It is well known that Teaching Assistants, work with teachers to help children learn and develop to be the best they can be.

Your roles vary between schools BUT, what doesn’t seem to attract much attention are the extra hours many of you undertake as ‘unpaid’ overtime on a regular basis.

While Head Teachers recognise the importance that support staff play in keeping their schools running effectively, this kind of unpaid work has become the norm in most schools and there appears to be an acceptance that it should continue.

UNISON would not tolerate this activity from any other employer and School Governors and Head Teachers should be under the same scrutiny.

To get a clearer picture of what’s happening in your school, we asked you to complete a survey and using the information gathered from your responses, we would seek solutions to the problem of unpaid overtime with your School Governors/Head Teachers.

Remember, this is a work/pay relationship i.e. YOU work and YOU should get paid.

We have correlated the results of the responses we received and I would like to say a big thankyou to each and everyone of you who took the time to complete the survey and they are presented below.

Hours Worked

The number of hours worked per week varies considerably, but the majority of you work between 26 and 30 hours per week.

We then asked you about the overtime you worked and if it was a condition of your contract of employment, with more than half of you being unsure if such a clause is in your contract.

One thing that is clear is that the vast majority of those who replied do undertake some sort of unpaid overtime.

The following chart shows the average number of hours worked by Teaching Assistants as unpaid overtime.

These are the top unpaid duties identified by you.

  • Lesson preparation and marking
  • Classroom preparation
  • Covering breaks and lunches
  • Supervision of children
  • Dealing with parents
  • School trips
  • Meetings
  • Covering medical issues/needs
  • Covering for teachers

Finally, with regards overtime, we asked if you would accept lieu time as recompense for your overtime duties.


Areas of Concern

Your main areas of concern are shown below.

  • Working Hours – expected to be in early/finish late and cover other roles
  • Lack of breaks due to providing cover
  • Pay
  • Courses must be attended out of contracted hours
  • Inability to complete work in contracted hours
  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of management guidance and appraisals
  • Health and safety
  • Blame culture
  • Bullying
  • Ability to take lieu time at own discretion
  • Unwillingness to pay staff overtime
  • State of school buildings
  • Use of own car
  • Medical needs of children

We will be raising these issues with school governors and head teachers during the summer holidays and will report the results back to you.

If you are interested in becoming a workplace contact or steward for your school, please contact us by email at enquiries@unisonsthelens.org.uk, providing your contact details and we will contact you to provide more information about becoming a contact or steward.

Are your details correct?

As we move closer to consulting on a final pay offer, it is vital that we have your correct contact details on our membership system.

Please use the link below to check your details are up to date:

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