Scheme Info 2017-05-19T09:42:20+00:00

Scheme Information

Mutual staff absence schemes are increasing in popularity. We are constantly in discussions with local authorities wishing to formulate their own scheme, as well as those wishing to participate in joint mutual schemes. They should not be thought of as insurance more as an alternative means of safeguarding schools’ cash reserves. Insurance generally covers something that might not happen, and we all know that staff absence will happen, so a mutual scheme approaches it in a slightly different way, a way that works best for the schools not the insurance companies.

We are now seeing the growth of schools’ mutual organisations whose primary objective is to deliver equivalent services to schools at a much reduced cost. These organisations are the best people to be running staff absence mutual schemes are they are effectively run by the schools themselves and therefore have no ulterior motives or agendas or political obstacles.

The theory is simple, mutual schemes are run without many of the overheads associated with commercial insurance so costs should be lower. If operated correctly, that is indeed the case, as all our customers will attest. Unfortunately in the real world, there are a number of other factors which can cause problems for the inexperienced, or even those without a clear holistic approach to a mutual scheme solution.

So how do mutuals gain their advantage against the insurance competition…..

Find out how…

Once the penny has dropped, and schools and right-thinking local authorities see the amount of money wasted on commercial staff absence insurance, mutual schemes soon becomes the obvious choice.

If you really want to know how much you can save not just by implementing a mutual scheme but an Esphera managed scheme click the button below.

See cost differences…

Knowing that mutuals are in theory the better option is not always enough, you still need the detailed knowledge to make sure any new scheme is a success or any revised scheme adheres to best practice. That is where we can provide invaluable help to ensure that your scheme is fully optimised and that you will be hard-pressed to better it.

Local authorities that do not operate one can easily set one up with our help. We have sets of scheme terms and conditions and membership rules designed over many years to provide a scheme that schools want because they have flexibility of choice and the costs are stripped right back due to a bespoke software platform that handles all the complexities and makes management a breeze.

Our Mutual Staff Absence Scheme Approach

When you use the Esphera Absence and Claims Management System (ACMS) you can be reassured that you are using the only bespoke software specifically designed with the help of local authorities to optimise the operation of a staff absence mutual scheme.


General Features…

  • Transparent economical cost model
  • No hardware/network/installation or application support issues – just sign up, and start using the service.
  • Can be integrated into your existing website/intranet
  • Colours/ branding can be tailored to give look and feel of the authority (at extra charge)
  • Context sensitive On-line help system so assistance always on hand

Absence Recording and Claims Processing…

Configurable by local authority allowing flexibility to

  • Choose staff categories and school types
  • Preset payment rates, excesses and maximum periods for claims across staff categories and school types to fit virtually any set of scheme rules
  • Delete and merge school information/records
  • Tailor an absence cause/reason hierarchy for reporting purposes
  • Receive email when return is received

Schools record details for

  • School, staff and holidays
  • Past absences, claims for these and future expected absences

Intuitive step-by-step return process – schools are led through in clear, easy to follow manner
Changes automatically included on the return to the authority
Warnings can be emailed to authority or schools when specific conditions arise
Return Checking – for local authority
Can easily see information submitted by the school
Can add notes which can optionally be relayed back to school if queries arise
Return Checking – for schools
Cannot enter duplicate absences
Can easily see progress of return at authority
Claim Checking – for local authority
Claims automatically checked to see if within allowable claim limit parameters
Checks for multiple and related claims against an absence
Highlights other noticeable exception conditions such as
Claims outside teacher posting dates
Claiming for more days than supply staff used
Invalid payment criteria


Flexible and powerful generic in-built reporting allowing virtually any information you require to be provided
Extensive value-add reporting allows viewing of individual details of Schools, Staff, Returns, Absences and Claims
Details can be summarised by many different attributes to provide ideal information for problem targeting
Reports are ideal for more equitable planning and setting of premium contributions
All reports can be instantly downloaded into CSV files for use within Excel
Special bespoke layout reports can be built on request (at extra charge)
Special bespoke output file formats can be built on request (at extra charge)
Schools can produce future absence reports to instantly see their supply teacher requirements at a glance.
When summarising by dates there is the option to summarise by the date, day, month, month/year or year to allow trending across various frequencies of time periods.
In both detailed and summary reports you can easily sort and filter by all elements allowing easy location of highest or lowest value selected.

Estimating Renewal Premiums/Fees…

  • Provides ability to estimate the expected claim level for schools across multiple categories
  • Can factor in contingency
  • Can factor in admin calculation
  • Can factor in stop-loss calculation
  • Allows parameterisation of estimate to suit authority
  • Allows school to choose excess day requirement if authority allows this
  • Allows school to choose benefit level if authority allows this
  • Flexible history reporting to provide best absence pattern trending
  • Can split analysis into Sickness/Maternity/Stress


Provides ability to specify multiple criteria for and locate:-

  • Schools using any combination of elements in the Schools element list
  • Staff using any combination of elements in the Schools and Staff element list
  • Returns using any combination of elements in the Returns and Schools element list
  • Past Absences or Claims using any combination of elements in the Returns, Schools, Staff, Past Absences and Claims element list
  • Complex searches that are required on a regular basis can be saved for easy retrieval the next time.


  • Self-funding – savings outweigh costs. Typical savings 15% (That’s £450k on a £3m fund!), typical cost of system is 2.5% of fund value.
  • Potentially eliminates paperwork if used to full extent
  • Significantly reduces administrative overheads for both authority and schools
  • Reduces duplicate and erroneous claims
  • All processing carried out on-line (- can continue with some paper if required)
  • Simplifies process and allows claim payments to be made quickly and more accurately
  • Enhanced service between authorities and schools
  • Improved reporting & analysis of returns, absences and claims resulting in fairer contribution charges
  • Speeds the location of absence and claim information for adhoc requests
  • Easy identification of problem areas or absence/claim trends
  • More efficient and cost effective management of absences through improved data quality
  • NEW Renewals module saves time and effort and helps reduce risk when setting contribution charges for forthcoming year
  • NEW Renewals module is highly likely to reduce losses or increase profitability and hence reduce contribution levels
  • Easy migration path from paper and spreadsheet based systems
  • Makes scheme more attractive to more schools


Confidentiality and security of data is always a prime concern and that’s why we have taken every precaution to ensure it stays safe. Security exists at many levels to protect your data

  • The application itself can only be accessed if you have a valid username and the corresponding password.
  • The application utilises dual factor authentication.
  • The application is hosted on a secure server with industry standard 128-bit SSL encryption between it and the user ensuring that deciphering of intercepted data traffic is virtually impossible.
  • All sensitive data in the system is 128-bit encrypted so even if a rogue party should get access to the database they will not be able to determine any between names and data held.
  • The physical security of the data centre holding the server is one of the most secure sites in operation today. The building is manned and monitored 24 hours a day, no one comes in or out without being identified, verified and weighed. The building also has some of the most sophisticated fire and power protection systems available.
  • Data backups occur to a different site and fully redundant servers are ready if the main service is compromised.


The system is run from a dedicated server with 9 times redundancy protection on a 40,000 Mbit Internet connection. The network has been engineered to avoid any single point of failure in connectivity, redundancy or power and there is around-the-clock staffing by specialist network technicians. It doesn’t get any faster or more reliable than this.