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  • Published:
    05 April
  • Area of Law:

Don’t cut corners in the recruitment rush

Amid warnings of a teacher supply crisis, school business managers (SBMs) rushing to recruit are at heightened risk of exposing themselves to serious legal and reputational implications when seeking to fill positions. With the correct recruitment preparation and procedures in place, head teachers are able to safeguard their establishments and harness the right talent without wasting resources or opening themselves up to liability claims.

The warnings of a talent crisis are prompting SBMs to start their recruitment for the coming academic year earlier than usual. However steps must be taken to ensure that an understanding of the legal implications for recruitment is in place before the initial job advert is created and not when candidates walk into their interview.

Communications about job vacancies must be delivered in a fair and objective manner to avoid any forms of discrimination. Additionally, outlining the job description carefully from the outset will ensure that requirements regarding the role remain transparent. Job descriptions shouldn’t just include typical tasks that need to be carried out, but also personal specifications including the types of characteristics required for the role. Should a case arise where an employer believes a member of staff is not fulfilling their job requirements, the job description can be referred back to as evidence. Therefore, spending the time to get this right is essential to reducing possible claims and finding the right talent from the off.

Problems can arise when educational establishments take a disjointed approach to recruitment. The process may start with a job description being written by a headteacher with the remainder of the recruitment process being carried out by a different member of the team, such as an SBM or HR director. A fragmented approach can cause a disconnect between expectations for the role due to a lack of centralised planning. Head teachers should be wary of only having initial input in the recruitment process and should clearly communicate expectations and requirements to all involved. Failing to do so could result in the wrong candidate selection, wasting vital resources for little or no return on investment and disruption to existing staff members. By getting this wrong employers may have no choice but to start from scratch.

Adhering to legal frameworks surrounding the recruitment process remains necessity irrespective of pressures felt when vying for a prime candidates. SBMs have a duty to carry out the appropriate employee checks ahead of recruiting a candidate and such checks can be more onerous for educational establishment. Ensuring that right to work checks, working Visas for employees and safeguarding issues such as DBS certificates are thoroughly carried out, are worth the time investment to avoid costly repercussions . Claims publically raised against a school for failing to comply with compulsory employment checks will damage confidence and a perceived drop in teaching standards among parents and the wider community.

The rush by schools to secure teachers before their competition could result in over-resourcing and roles subsequently being terminated. Although a school has the potential to fairly dismiss an employee, such practices could tarnish its reputation and deter other candidates coming forward in the future. However, if a school adopts this type of recruitment approach, it is advisable to use the right type of employment contract such as temporary or fixed term. Further, the right level of transparency on their intended use will ensure that all parties’ expectations are managed appropriately and reputational risks mitigated.

Although there is a need to attract talented teachers into schools, prior planning, accurate job descriptions, following the correct procedures and clear communication will ensure that discrimination or dismissal claims are kept at bay, reputation is maintained and the right candidates are hired in the process.

"We're excited about working with Shakespeare Martineau to show
how integral teamwork is in both sporting and business
environments. We also share similar beliefs when it comes to
fostering upcoming talent."

Paul Blanchard, Chief Executive, Commonwealth Games England