Why supply teachers get a bumper post-holiday pay day

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When supply teachers get paid for the first time after the summer holidays, their take-home pay is often a lot higher than expected. That’s because it’s common to pay little or no tax on your first payments following a break from work.

That’s a pleasant surprise. But why?

Most people receive a tax-free personal allowance (an amount of money you can earn annually without paying tax). It’s given to you in equal portions throughout the year so that by the end of the tax year you’ve received your full amount.

For example, if your personal allowance is £12,570 you get it in instalments of £242 per week. In other words, the first £242 you earn every week is tax-free. It’s a system designed to keep your take-home pay steady throughout the year.

So what happens if I take a few weeks off?

If you’re on what’s known as a cumulative tax code (like 1257L) and you take some time off work, your allowance from those weeks isn’t lost. Instead, it builds up and goes into a pot, ready for your next payday.

So, by the time you return to work after the summer holidays, you could’ve built up six or seven weeks’ worth of tax-free allowance. The result? You pay less tax than usual on your first pay if anything at all.

Your take-home pay will continue to be higher than normal until the allowance that you’ve built up runs out, at which point the amount of tax paid will return to normal.

These figures are correct for the 2024/25 tax year