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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I am a peripatetic piano teacher at a central London private

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I am a peripatetic piano teacher at a central London private school. I started there in 2002 and have been teaching there for three days a week ever since.
In January of this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but continued to teach around two operations, eventually having to take extended leave of absence for chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The leave began in mid-May and continued to mid-October - ie. the 2nd half of the Summer Term and the 1st half of the Autumn Term.
I returned to work on a phased basis - two days a week only - at the beginning of November, with a view to returning for the full three days at the start of term in January.
During my absence, my teaching was covered by several people, one of whom was brought in for this reason only. (The others already teach at the school.) Now that I am ready to return for the full three days, I have learnt that the newly employed cover teacher will be continuing to teach one day a week on a permanent basis. This means that there are not enough pupils for a third day of my time. My teaching has effectively been reduced by a third.
I discovered that I have only been paid for two days work per week this term. Should my sick pay have continued as per the previous academic year?
Do I have any right to be re-allocated three days' worth of pupils (ie. there is no longer a need for the cover teacher to remain at the school), or at least to be paid for three days' worth? I cannot afford to lose this day of teaching.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Are you an employee or self employed?


Ben Jones :

Hi, sorry my connection dropped earlier. As you have been diagnosed with cancer, you will automatically be classified as being disabled in employment law terms. This gives you certain protection against being discriminated, either directly or indirectly, because of your disability.

As a starting point the employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to try and reduce the negative effects that your condition may have on your ability to do your job. So this could be done by reallocating duties, providing specialist equipment, changing your hours, etc. In your case they offered you a phased return to work.

However, once adjustments are no longer necessary, you do have the right to return to your original contract. That is unless there was a specific clause in it allowing your employer to vary it or reduce your hours or responsibilities. Even with such a clause in it, that should only be implemented after consultation or if absolutely necessary.

The fact that this person was covering you whilst you are absent does not give them permanent rights to part of the job they covered, and neither does it allow the employer to just take that part of your work away, especially when you are ready to return to work as normal.

Therefore, the employer’s actions can amount to disability discrimination and also a breach of trust and confidence. You should try and resolve this directly with them first, you have the formal grievance procedure at your disposal to start off with. If that does not help and you have also appealed unsuccessfully, then you can start considering what further action to take – that could include just a claim for discrimination in the employment tribunal, or you can also consider resigning and claiming constructive dismissal at the same time, although that is a last resort option as you can imagine as you will be placing yourself out of a job.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you


Thank you, ***** ***** does clarify my position, and I shall move forward with your suggestions for resolving the problem. Many thanks.

Ben Jones :

you are welcome, all the best

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