An employee accrues continuous service for each year they work for an employer. This provides the employee with certain statutory rights, for example, the right to claim unfair dismissal after 2 years.
When a person moves from one employer to the next, those years of accrued continuous service do not move with them and the employee will start to accrue the years again from the first date of their new employment.
However, if the employee works in the education sector, they could carry their continuous service from one school to the next in certain circumstances within the same local authority, as long as there is no gap in employment, as follows:
New Employer in same local authority
|Community/voluntary controlled schools||Community/voluntary controlled schools||Yes|
|Community/voluntary controlled schools||Foundation/voluntary aided school||Yes|
|Foundation/voluntary aided schools||Community/voluntary controlled schools||Yes|
|Foundation/voluntary aided schools||Foundation/voluntary aided schools||No|
|Local authority in-house service||Community/voluntary controlled school||Yes|
|Local authority in-house service||Foundation/voluntary aided school||Yes|
|Academy||Any other school||No|
The above is regarding continuing service for statutory purposes only and it should not be confused with the continuous service recognised for rights to redundancy pay under the Redundancy Payments (Continuity of Employment in Local Government, etc.) (Modification) Order 1999 or rights to certain conditions of service as set out in the Green and Burgundy Books.
Therefore, in certain circumstances, an employee’s continuous service at a previous school could be counted for the purposes of calculating redundancy pay or in relation to sick pay, but it would not be counted if they were looking to bring an unfair dismissal claim for example.
Breaks in Continuous Service When Working for the Same Employer
Currently, an employee’s continuous service for statutory purposes can be broken if there is a break of one complete week (Sunday to Saturday) between the two contracts of employment with the same employer. Under the Good Work Plan, this will be increased to 4 weeks as of 6 April 2020.
It is important to note however that there can be circumstances where an employee may not start work in their new role until several weeks later, but the gap in continuous service can be bridged. For example, an employee resigns and within a week of their contract ending, they are offered a new job by the same employer which is accepted and they start the new role eight weeks later. These two periods of employment will be counted as continuous service, as the contract of employment on the second role had been created when the offer had been made and accepted, not when the employee actually started work.