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Supreme Court upholds ‘9 year rule’ for teachers at the European Schools


Duncombe and Fletcher v Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

Teachers at the European Schools in Culham, Oxfordshire are employed by the Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families and seconded to the School for a fixed period of 9 years, because the European Schools have regulations requiring teachers to be seconded to them for only 9 years and no longer.

The Supreme Court has overturned declarations that the teachers had been granted by the Employment Tribunal (upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal) that they were permanent employees of the Government because their fixed term employment was not objectively justified under the Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.

Overturning those declarations, the Supreme Court has held that employment for only 9 years was objectively justified given the Schools' 9 year rule.  Lady Hale commented (obiter) on whether the Fixed Term Regulations formed part of the teachers' employment contracts and whether teachers working outside the UK could bring claims for unfair dismissal.

The judgment is here.

Maya Lester appeared for the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.