Licence of houses on school grounds: necessary to performance of teacher’s duties?

In Commissioners of Valuation for Northern Ireland v Fermanagh Protestant Board of Education ([1969] 1 W.L.R. 1708, HL) school teachers had licences of houses in the school grounds. There was no express term of their employment requiring them to live in the houses. Thus, following Glasgow Corporation, it was a question as to whether an obligation to occupy the houses could be implied on the basis that this occupation was necessary for the performance of their duties. In the majority of the cases considered by the House of Lords in this decision, there was no such necessity. Accordingly, the occupation was that of the teacher and not of the school. One of the arrangements being considered, however, concerned the vice-principal of a school. Living on school grounds was necessary for the performance of his duties. Accordingly, the house was occupied by the school and not the vice-principal.

Lord Diplock said that:

‘[T]he servant’s residence on the premises must constitute a part of the consideration from him to the employer for which he is paid his salary or wages.’ (1730).

It is not enough, for the employer to be in occupation, that the employment agreement contain an express obligation to reside in the property. Even then, living in the property must materially assist the employee in the performance of his duties under the employment contract.


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