UPDATED 28 AUGUST 2020 - The Pay and Workload Agreement directed that time budgets for all teachers would be in place for this academic year. Some teachers will have received time budgets and had the appropriate meeting with their principal to agree the same; some will have received the time budget but are awaiting the meeting and some will not yet have received their time budget due to the current circumstances.

The employers have developed a training and support package to support principals in this process and this will be rolled out during the first weeks in September. Teaching unions will be present at the training sessions. Information will then be available on line to continue to support principals as required.

UTU, along with the other NITC unions, has met with Management Side to address the issue of time budgets. It was acknowledged that the current Covid situation and the fact that the training has not yet taken place have impacted on the process in some circumstances. The employers and the unions have therefore agreed transitional arrangements for the completion of Directed Time Budgets by 31st October 2020, the details of which will be issued to principals today.

These transitional arrangements will have no negative impact on a teacher’s time budget for the 2020/21 year.

Until individual time budgets are in place, the following has been agreed:

- teachers should be notified of which 195 days they are required to work

- no teacher should be directed to work more than 32.4 hours in a single week

- each working day to date should be counted as 6.5 hours and deducted from the 1265 hours available thereafter. This applies to all days since worked since 31st July 2020.

It is also important to note that, due to the Covid situation, teachers can be directed to carry out duties from home or in school.

Additional information is available on the UTU website to support the process and UTU Officials will be available to offer any advice which principal or teacher members may require.

Time Budget Guidance

Every teacher is entitled to a Directed Time budget, which sets out the individual responsibility of the teacher in the school. A full time teacher is required to be available for work for 1265 hours over 195 days (pro-rata thereof for part time teachers).

All the information below is contained within the TNC 2020 Agreement between Management and Trade Union Side of the Teachers’ Negotiating Committee. Please find below the main points to consider:

  • The requirement for time budgets has been in place since 1987, and whilst many schools will have had a time budget in place, the importance of time budgets in light of teachers’ work life balance was emphasised in the pay and workload negotiations and slight amendments have been made.
  • It is the Principal’s professional duty to determine the time budget and discuss the content with staff. Time budgets will be different from teacher to teacher, depending on their contracted hours (directed time for part-time teachers has to be calculated on a pro-rata basis) and responsibilities.

All time that a teacher is required to be on the premises to fulfil their professional duties, as directed by the Principal, has to be accounted for in the time budget as part of directed time. If a teacher is asked to fulfil duties which are not included in the time budget (such as residential trips, after school clubs, school events), it is a matter of negotiation between the teacher and the Principal as to how the time budget can be adjusted accordingly. If time is not allocated, the activities take place on a voluntary basis and a teacher cannot be directed to engage in or fulfil the duties identified.

What is included?

  • Class contact time: Primary school and Special school teachers are required to teach up to a maximum of 25 hours per week, in post primary schools 23.5 hours.
  • Supervision time: when no active teaching is taking place, as well as break duties, bus duties, assemblies.
  • Non-teaching days: 5 Baker Days plus up to 5 additional days (pro-rata for part-time teachers).
  • Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time: 10% of overall Directed Time, which is ring fenced and teachers should not be asked to undertake any other duties during this time.
  • TA/SENCO time: Teachers in receipt of a teaching allowance or special educational needs allowance with additional responsibility must have sufficient time set aside within the time budget to fulfil these duties.
  • Assembly and registration: counted towards directed time. Leading an assembly and delivering learning or pastoral work counted as class contact time.
  • Lunch: statutory lunch break of 30 minutes is unpaid and not part of directed time, teachers do therefore not have to stay on the premises. Any additional time over lunch is counted towards directed time, as is the morning break.
  • Parent interviews: dates and times should be identified and communicated to staff at the beginning of the year. This time is also part of the overall directed time.
  • Evening meetings and school events: If staff are required to attend events such as
  • Christmas concerts, school meetings or other events, the dates and times have to be communicated to staff as part of the academic school calendar and the time has to be identified in the time budget.
  • Staff meetings: all staff meetings, including those for staff with additional responsibilities, have to be scheduled at the beginning of the academic year and accounted for in the time budget.
  • Flexibility: There is a certain element of flexibility once the time budget has been provided, but any changes will have to be discussed with the teachers and the overall directed time can’t be exceeded.

If a Principal does not provide teachers with an individual time budget, they are in breach of the TNC agreement and teachers should contact an Ulster Teachers’ Union official via office@utu.edu.


Over the coming weeks the Ulster Teachers’ Union is hosting webinars for Principals, School Leaders and Teachers to discuss time budgets. Please look out for the email or social media posts with the dates and times. If you need to speak to an official, please contact HQ via office@utu.edu