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Sim v Rotherham MBC

[1986] ICR 897

Case summary last updated at 17/02/2020 21:35 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Sim v Rotherham MBC

Ps were teachers employed by D, with their contracts saying nothing about covering for absent teachers. They refused to do so (on their unions instructions) but continued all their regular duties at the school. The school made deductions from their wages for failing to cover those lessons. Ps sued for the deducted salaries, arguing that the cover system was not a contractual obligation (but operated merely out of goodwill). Scott J held that although the contracts werte silent on this point, it was part of a teacher’s ‘professional obligation’ to cooperate with the school authorities in the school’s running, so that by failing to cover the lessons the teachers had been in breach of their employment contracts. The principle of equitable set-off applied, so that the school was entitled to make deductions from the wages of the employee. 
Scott J: Employment in particular profession necessarily implies certain duties e.g. the employment contract of a solicitor wouldn’t state what the professional obligations of a solicitor are. Similarly with teachers, it is unsurprising that the duties inherent to being a teacher aren’t mentioned e.g. contracts don’t mention that the teachers have to prepare for classes properly or mark homework or look after a pupil hurt in a chemistry experiment- its implied. The same goes for covering lessons. 

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