Last reviewed on 21 October 2021
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 4374

Understand what is meant by, and the rules around, 'rarely cover' and 'foreseeable' absence, and find answers to common questions on who can provide cover. We also relay guidance from unions.

What is 'rarely cover'?

'Rarely cover' is the rule that teachers can only be asked to provide cover for other teachers "rarely" and "in circumstances that are not foreseeable". 

It does not apply to teachers who are employed wholly or mainly to undertake cover. 

This is set out in paragraph 52.7 of the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD).

The STPCD applies to teachers in maintained schools and teachers in academies whose employment transferred to an academy at the point of conversion. For other teachers in academies, you may wish to refer to the teacher's individual contract of employment for further information on any requirement to provide cover.

What does 'rarely' and 'foreseeable' mean in practice? 

The current STPCD does not specify a time limit for ‘rarely’ or set out what's considered a 'foreseeable circumstance'. 

For example, the