With schools and colleges now closed to all but a few students, the NEU is working to ensure that arrangements are safe and appropriate whether students and staff are working at home or at school.  NEU advice to members will be regularly updated as matters develop.

Current arrangements for keeping schools open for some students

  • What is the current Government position on school closures?

    Schools across the UK have closed to all students other than to a limited number of children of key workers and vulnerable children.  You can read the Secretary of State’s statement in respect of schools in England here.

  • What precautions need to be taken where schools remain open for some students?

    Employers and managers in schools should continue to monitor advice from Government and health authorities, continuing to assess risks to and from employees, students, visitors etc, review their policies and procedures, consider additional safety measures, and communicate information to staff, students and parents as matters continue to develop.

  • What is NAHT saying to its members about staffing schools?

    This is the NAHT’s advice, which we think should be noted by all school leaders whatever their union:

    Can I direct staff to support this new way of working? Many colleagues are stepping up to support the efforts of schools at this challenging time. The government is right to ask schools and their teams to play this crucial role to aid the nations’ response to Covid-19, but it is a difficult and unnerving request. It is entirely reasonable that individual members of your team will harbour their own fears about their health and that of their families. They may even resent the request from the government. Some will want to know if they can be compelled to work. As key workers there is an expectation that members of your team will report for work if they are fit to do so and not follow the guidance for isolation. But it will be impossible to build the team response you will need if you rely on compulsion. That will lead to resentment and people will simply stay away using “isolation” to legitimise their absence. We are hearing reports of great team meetings where peers have encouraged one another to step up with full cooperation. This effort cannot be about compulsion. Success will be borne out of mutual respect, understanding and support. Please share the successful ways your teams are working with each other over the coming weeks and we will help disseminate the best examples.

  • Will there be coronavirus testing if we have to go to work?

    The NEU believes it is absolutely crucial for the efficient and safe functioning of the education service over the coming months that Covid 19 testing is introduced for education staff working in schools. There simply won't be enough staff available if everyone with symptoms has to self-isolate.  

    Plans were announced yesterday to step up testing, and while health care staff will be the priority we need include education staff as a matter of urgency.

  • Can we refuse to work in school on health & safety grounds and will the law protect us?

    The NEU expects employers and managers to maintain safety by implementing safety measures, reviewing procedures regularly, consulting with union reps and staff and seeking expert advice. There may, however,  be situations where there are serious hygiene or staffing failures which have not been rectified and are posing an imminent danger to all. If you and your colleagues think, for example, that cleaning is not being carried out properly or social distancing measures are not being adequately complied with, first of all make sure that your head teacher or principal is informed (by your rep if you have one) about your concerns.  If that doesn't resolve the matter, get in touch with Union for advice.  Employees have protection under the law if they leave a workplace in circumstances which they believe to represent 'serious and imminent danger' but it is important to seek advice first.

  • There is a child in my class whose mum is a key worker but I know his dad will be working from home. Should he be in school?

    The Government’s advice is that students should only be in school where absolutely necessary.  They should not be in school if someone can care for them at home. Schools should be open to as few students as possible, so even where one parent is key worker the child should be at home if their other parent can look after them.

Staff and student attendance after potential exposure to Coronavirus

  • What is the latest advice on self-isolation from Public Health England and the NHS?

    Self-isolation advice 

    • If one person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days
    • Those people should, if possible, avoid leaving the house "even to buy food or essentials" - but they may leave the house "for exercise and, in that case, at a safe distance from others"

    Those who are self-isolating should follow the staying at home advice here.

  • What if a staff member or student develops Coronavirus?

    In the event of a case being confirmed at a school or college, DfE advice on the procedure to be followed is set out in point 4 of its guidance

  • Should staff and students who are expected to be at school stay away from school after potential exposure to Coronavirus?

    Schools are still under a duty to protect the health and well-being of those employed at and studying at the school.  Students and staff should not be admitted to the school where this would conflict with NHS advice.

    The current NHS advice is that:

    • If one person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days
    • Those people should, if possible, avoid leaving the house "even to buy food or essentials" - but they may leave the house "for exercise and, in that case, at a safe distance from others"
    • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
    • They do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them they’re staying at home.
    • NHS will not be testing people who are self-isolating with mild symptoms.

    Check whether the above is still the current NHS advice, then:

    • If the NHS advice is telling you to self-isolate, you should stay away from work.  The NHS advice should be treated as being the same as advice from your own GP (and you should not be visiting your GP in these circumstances). 
    • If your employer asks you to stay away from work, even where NHS advice is not telling you to self-isolate, you should comply with your employer’s instruction. 

    If you have concerns about attending work due to personal medical vulnerability, read the advice under Other questions and answers below.

    The NEU does not advise you to stay away from work in other circumstances simply to avoid contact with others as you may find that your employer treats your absence as unauthorised.

    If students seek to attend schools when they should be self-isolating, the school should send them home.

  • What about staff who need to stay away from school to avoid potential exposure to Coronavirus?

    The decision to close schools to most students, but keep them open to some, does not change the guidance that you should not be at work if you are vulnerable due to an underlying health condition or if you are pregnant.

    The NHS website lists the following categories as being at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus:

    • those who have had an organ transplant and are taking immunosuppressant medicine
    • those who are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy
    • those who have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia, a severe chest condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma, or another serious health condition.

    Other examples of serious health conditions include the following - but please note this is not an exhaustive list:

    If you are pregnant or have any serious health condition you should not be in school.  You should be at home, where you may then be asked to carry out work which can be done at home. Don't be afraid to raise this with your head teacher and inform them you intend to work for home.  We expect head teachers to accept your concerns in such circumstances and you can of course seek support from the NEU locally if necessary.

    There is no definitive list of serious conditions.   The NHS website simply refers to “other serious health conditions”, recognising that it is impossible to offer a definitive list.

  • What is the NEU advice to carers for the vulnerable and over 70s - should we stay home from work?

    Yes, this is important to avoid infecting vulnerable people for whom you have a caring responsibility.  Discuss with your head teacher why you need to stay away from school and work from home.

  • Do I need to provide any medical certificate to my school if I am sick or have to self isolate?

    Given the circumstances we hope that schools will not feel that they need to request any evidence. There is no requirement to do so, even  after the first seven days during which employees can self-certify.  If you are asked, however, go to https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/ and from the NHS app. After answering a few questions an 'isolation note' will be  emailed to you.  The system can also be used to generate an isolation note for someone else.

  • What is the position in relation to medical confidentiality when an employee is diagnosed with coronavirus?

    The overriding duty on employers is to protect people’s health and safety.  In many cases it will be necessary to name an infected employee, even without their consent, if for example they have had close contact with many others. Public Health England instructions should always be followed in this respect.

    Given the current situation, the NEU urges members to accept matters if they are identified in order to help protect their colleagues, pupils and the wider community.

  • I am worried about catching Coronavirus at school, although there is no medical advice specifically supporting my wish to self-isolate.  What should I do?

    If you have genuine concerns about, for example, poor hygiene or similar issues in the workplace, or your personal vulnerability due to some medical condition, the NEU expects your employer to accept your concerns.  Allowing you to work at home would be a reasonable adjustment and we would not accept this being treated as unauthorised absence.

  • What do we do if there is a Covid 19 case in my school and the head teacher refuses to close the school? 

    If there is a Covid 19 case, schools will be advised by Public Health England who will undertake a risk assessment and propose actions and precautions to be taken. Government advice on cleaning is available here. It sets out that, if an area can be kept closed and secure for 72 hours, this amount of time should be allowed to pass before cleaning as the amount of virus still alive on surfaces will have reduced significantly by 72 hours. We expect employers to follow this advice and that full or partial temporary closure will happen in these circumstances.   Contact the NEU if this is not the case.

  • Where can I find advice about travel to and return from other affected areas?

    You can find the current Government travel advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) here

    Government guidance on school trip restrictions is available here. If you have had to cancel a trip, check your travel insurance policy for information on cancellations and reimbursements. The NEU view is that insurers should make payments in respect of any trips cancelled after the Government issued its advice to stop all trips abroad.

    Schools and colleges should draw this advice to the attention of staff, students and parents/guardians of students. Schools should also refer to other advice published by the Government and by bodies such as the Boarding School Association. 

    Where additional boarding provision is needed during school closures for students whose travel plans have been cancelled, any additional staffing arrangements should be made in discussion with staff and unions and appropriately recompensed.

  • I am due to travel to a destination not covered by Government advice - what happens if I have to self-isolate on my return? 

    The current Government advice on travel abroad is here.  The NEU’s advice is not to travel abroad due to the speed at which the situation is changing.  Keep up to date with Government advice.  If you were to travel and asked or required to self isolate, you should be on full pay.

Pay and sick pay entitlements for staff who cannot attend work

  • What about pay and sick pay when absent from work?

    In the event of your school being temporarily closed on account of the coronavirus, you are contractually entitled to full pay.

    Employees who are at home due to school closure, rota working or due to being vulnerable or caring for the vulnerable, should in all cases receive full pay which is not treated as sick pay as they are staying away from work at the employer’s direction.  Employees who are at home due to school closure and are not themselves sick should therefore receive full pay.  They may of course be required to be available to work (see below).

    School employees covered by the Burgundy Book (teachers) and Green Book (support staff) sick pay schemes are entitled to full pay for absence when they are required to be absent due to infectious illness and this absence does not count against sick pay entitlements.

    Soulbury-paid employees are covered by the Green Book sick pay scheme.  Sixth form college teachers’ entitlements match the Burgundy Book, but support staff entitlements do not fully match the Green Book provisions. 

    For members working in the independent sector, sick pay entitlement will depend on your contract of employment. As an absolute minimum you will be entitled to statutory provision.

    FE college staff and staff in academies which do not or may not follow the Burgundy and Green Book schemes will need to check their contracts and check with their employer if necessary.

    However, the NEU expects all employers to provide full pay for all such absence, in line with ACAS advice, whether or not the employee is covered by the above schemes.  Otherwise, employees may simply try to come in to their workplace, increasing the risk of transmission.

    Employers should disregard such absence for the purpose of sickness absence management policies.

    Relevant extracts from the Burgundy Book and Green Book sick pay schemes are below (Sick pay schemes).

  • Sick pay schemes

    Burgundy Book

    Section 4 Paragraph 10 ‘Contact with infectious diseases’

    10.1

    "When the approved medical practitioner attests that there is evidence to show a reasonable probability that an absence was due to an infectious or contagious illness contracted directly in the course of the teacher’s employment full pay shall be allowed for such period of absence as may be authorised by the approved medical practitioner as being due to the illness, and such absence shall not be reckoned against the teacher’s entitlement to sick leave under paragraph 2 above, though such absences are reckonable for entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay."

    10.3:

    "A teacher residing in a house in which some other person is suffering from an infectious disease shall at once notify the employer and the teacher shall, if required, take such precautions as may be prescribed, provided that if in the opinion of the approved medical practitioner it is considered inadvisable, notwithstanding such precautions, for such teacher to attend duty, full pay shall be allowed during any enforced absence from duty, such pay being sick pay for the purpose of paragraphs 3 to 7.5 above. This provision will also apply where, in the opinion of an approved medical practitioner, it is inadvisable for a teacher to attend duty for precautionary reasons due to infectious disease in the workplace. The period of the absence under this paragraph shall not be reckoned against the. teacher’s entitlement to sick leave under paragraph 2 above, though such absences are reckonable for entitlements to Statutory Sick Pay."

    See also LGA letter on Novel Coronavirus: COVID-19

    Green Book

    Part 2 Para 10.9:

    “An employee who is prevented from attending work because of contact with infectious disease shall be entitled to receive normal pay. The period of absence on this account shall not be reckoned against the employee’s entitlements under this scheme.”

    See also NJC circular on Novel Coronavirus: COVID-19

  • Will I still get paid my full pay if my school closes and I am not at work?

    Yes. The NEU expects all LA schools and academies to pay as normal their Teachers and Support Staff during the school closure period.

  • Will appraisal cycles continue as normal and will we move up the pay scale?

    It will not be possible to operate appraisal arrangements during the school closure period.  That means that all employers must accept there is only one fair way to proceed on pay progression.  PRP is any case damaging and unjustified but clearly cannot operate if schools and colleges are closed.  Staff must not be penalised when we recover from this crisis by having pay progression denied.  The NEU therefore urges employers to agree now to set aside PRP this year (as some are already doing anyway) and agree that all eligible staff will receive pay progression.  The NEU will support any member who is denied pay progression this year.

  • If I need to self-isolate after my school has closed to most students, do I still have to work?

    If you are fit to work, but you are self-isolating as a precaution, you should arrange with your employer what work you can do while at home. As schools are now closed to students, your employer will be arranging with its staff how day to day work will be conducted during the school closure period.

  • I have recently self-isolated with suspected Covid-19. My school has said that my absence will be treated as a normal sick absence. Is that correct?

    No, it is not correct. According to the Green Book, absences caused by “contact with infectious disease” (Section 10.9) must not be offset against the employee’s sick pay entitlements under the scheme, and should be recorded separately from normal sickness records for the purposes of the sick pay scheme. Different rules may apply for members in independent schools and post-16 colleges, so you will need to consult your NEU rep. 

  • I’m about to drop onto half sick pay – will that still happen if/when the school closes?

    School closures due to the Coronavirus will not affect your ongoing sick pay entitlement or any change in entitlement which is due to happen if you do not return to work.

  • What about notifying fitness to return from sick leave?

    If you are fit to return to work after a period of sick leave, you should notify your employer as normal. You will then need to discuss whether you work in school or at home. If you have a disability it will be a reasonable adjustment to enable you to carry-out work from home. If there is no work you can do you should still be paid as normal as you are fit to work. The NEU is absolutely clear that no member of staff with a vulnerability to Covid19 effects can be in school or college.

  • What is the NEU advice if you are pregnant or on maternity leave?

    The union has produced the top ten things you need to know if pregnant or on maternity leave including FAQs for members in those circumstances.

  • I am due to start a new job - will I be paid, am I vulnerable?

    You should inform your new employer that you are ready, willing and able to work, We would expect employers to honour new contracts as those jobs will still be required once a school reopens. Some employers may see it as an opportunity to save money. If you have accepted an unconditional job offer (e.g. it has not been offered subject to satisfactory references or a DBS certificate) and the employer tries to give backword you are still entitled to notice pay.

  • Although the NHS advice does not require me to self-isolate, my school has asked me to stay away from the workplace anyway.  What should I do?

    You should follow your employer’s advice and stay away from work and you should definitely be on full pay.

  • I have to look after a family member who has contracted Coronavirus - will I be paid?

    The NEU will expect your employer to treat this as special leave on full pay. There is a statutory entitlement to unpaid time off to care for a dependant in an emergency situation and many employer policies already provide a certain amount of paid time off.  The same applies to necessary absence for anyone who is self-isolating who requires support to look after themselves. We have called on the Government to confirm that payments will be made to any worker who is absent from work caring for others due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Working entitlements for those who are continuing to work in school or are working at home

  • Should there be rota working?

    While any school remains partially open for children of key workers, we will expect arrangements such as a rota system to be implemented where necessary for those staff who are in school, which complies with the Government direction that staff and students who can be at home should be at home. For further information, please see our Joint Advice agreed with ASCL and NAHT.

  • Who should be at school?

    Only staff working directly with students or key to opening, and cleaning, should be on the school site. Teachers should not be asked to be on site if they are not looking after pupils. They should not be asked to attend full staff meetings, or to clean cupboards, or take down displays for example because this increases their exposure to the virus and endangers the NHS. For further information, please see our Joint Advice agreed with ASCL and NAHT.

  • Will a rota system be in place for the holidays?

    Staff holidays should be operated on a rota basis so that staff get two weeks off, either before, during or after the period when the school would normally be closed for Easter. Having weeks rather than days off will offer significant benefits in protecting staff health through minimising the extent of contact with different colleagues. It should not be assumed, however, that staff can change their plans, even during the current situation.

  • Should the school consult us when drawing up protocols and rotas?

    All safety protocols, rotas and changes to normal duties should be negotiated with you rather than imposed on you.  Click here for models you may follow.  For further information, please see our Joint Advice agreed with ASCL and NAHT.

  • What is the percentage of support staff who can be required to attend school?

    Given that schools are only meant to be open for vulnerable children and children of "key workers", there will be a minimal requirement for staff to physically attend school. 

    There is no set percentage benchmark for schools staffing but it should reflect the Government view that only around 10 per cent of children will need to attend school during this period. 

    Schools must also bear in mind the importance of keeping to an absolute minimum the number of staff in work, to ensure that the potential for the virus to spread is minimised. 

  • I work in a Special School; I am concerned that operating a rota system will mean staff are over stretched and/or pupils will be left unattended?

    We recognise that the use of rotas may pose some particular challenges in special schools where higher staff ratios are required, but leaders should still try to take a similar overall approach to the use of rotas where possible. For further information, please see our Joint Advice agreed with ASCL and NAHT.

  • If my school closes, will I be asked to make up the time later in the year?

    This will depend on what steps the government takes. At the moment most teachers are required to work 195 days a year and subject to directed time of 1265 hours. You can be required to work additional hours but this is something that should be the subject of negotiation not direction, and work-life balance must be taken into account. The government may pass emergency legislation to try and override the limits. The NEU have made it very clear that we must be involved in any discussions of this nature so we can represent all our members interests.

     

  • What if Exam catch up classes are suggested during later holidays?

    This should be the subject of negotiation and agreement. Individuals should be able to agree to help out students like this if they wish to do so but should not be compelled. Staff who have pre-booked holidays should not be expected to miss them.

  • Are school leaders’ obligations greater than others (including during holidays as they aren’t on 1265 hours?)

    Governing boards may place pressure on leaders to work additional time. However, it has to be remembered that this whole period has been extremely stressful for staff and students and people will need proper periods of time off to full recuperate.

  • Will we be paid extra if we work in school over the holidays?

    This is one of the matters on which we are seeking discussion with the DFE.  It has said nothing about extra pay  to teachers who work during the holidays as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. This work must in our view be voluntary for teachers working in LA maintained schools who can only be directed to work for 1265 hours and 195 days a year and can only be directed "reasonably".

  • What are our obligations re extended hours (morning/evening/weekend)?

    This is again a matter where we expect involvement to be voluntary as far as possible.  Schools and academies should be consulting with staff on what they will be required to do during this period of extended closure to most pupils.

  • Can I be asked to go into school to undertake duties like updating classroom displays, writing reports and sorting out outstanding filing?

    Staff should only be present in schools to supervise students and carry out essential duties.  If you are not needed for those purposes you should not be in school.

  • I have been asked to undertake cleaning duties, even though I am employed as a teaching assistant. Can the school force me to cover for the cleaners?

    No, they cannot force you to carry out duties that are clearly outside the scope of your job description and employment contract. What is more, the regular cleaners should be undertaking their normal duties. Should such an issue arise, you should consult your NEU rep immediately. If you do not have an NEU Rep at your school, then you should contact your NEU district secretary. 

  • Do you have to go to another school to work if you are asked?

    This may well be proposed if you are fit to work and there are shortages of other staff who are.  We will expect matters to be fully consulted upon and measures taken to make sure that all times that such a request is reasonable, practical and your wellbeing/health are not at risk.

  • Can Term-Time Only (TTO) paid support staff be expected to work during school holidays?

    In normal circumstances, TTO paid support staff are not required to work during school holiday periods and the current crisis does not alter that fact. Having said that, if schools want TTO staff to provide cover during the holidays e.g. to look after the children of designated key workers, then those staff must be appropriately recompensed, either by the payment of the correct rate for overtime, or the granting at the same enhanced rate of time off in lieu (TOIL), to be taken at some future point. For details of the correct enhanced rates, please refer to Green Book, Part 3, Section 2.6. Different policies may apply if you work in an independent school or a post-16 college, so you will need to consult your NEU Rep. Whatever payment method is decided upon, you should ask the head for confirmation in writing.

  • Do we have to take all children with an EHC plan?

    Government guidance states that schools, colleges and other training providers and local authorities should undertake a risk assessment to determine if a child needs to be in school or if they can safely be cared for at home. If a child's EHC plan doesn't include receiving personal care from their school or college their needs can be met in the family home.

  • Am I entitled to tax relief for working from home?

     Am I entitled to tax relief for working from home?

    Normally, carrying out duties such as marking, writing reports and preparing lessons and teaching at home, even if this requires the use of your own facilities, would not permit tax relief against taxable income. However, given the current necessity of working from home, where possible and using home facilities, you will be able to claim a rate of £4 a week if you pay tax under PAYE. This will increase to £6 a week from 6 April, 2020.

    To claim this tax relief, complete an online P87 form. If you are self-employed you may claim tax relief through your annual self-assessment form.

Arrangements for the Easter holiday period

  • What happens in the Easter holidays?
    The Government wants schools to open during the Easter holiday for a small number of children of key workers.  During the Easter period, staff participation should be on a voluntary basis, operated on a rots basis and ensuring that staff get their expected leave from work.  It should not be assumed that staff can change their plans for the Easter period as family members' work arrangements may well be different.
     
    The NEU believes that staff leave should be operated on a rota basis, so that staff get two weeks off before, during or after the period when the school would normally be closed for Easter.  Operating rotas on the basis of weeks rather than days off would significantly reduce the number of colleagues with whom there is contact.
     
    All arrangements must be reasonable and should be subject to consultation and agreement between school leaders and staff.  Following consultation and agreement, schools should set out clearly to all staff what the arrangements for Easter will be.  School leaders are also entitled to time off and should not have unreasonable expectations imposed on them.
  • Will schools be open during the Easter holidays?

    The Government wants schools to open during the Easter holiday for a small number of children of key workers.  The Government has not yet made any announcement about its wishes for the Easter weekend including Bank Holidays.

  • Should staff be consulted on Easter holiday opening arrangements?

    All arrangements must be reasonable and should be subject to consultation and agreement between school leaders and staff.  Following consultation and agreement, schools should set out clearly to all staff what the arrangements for Easter will be including rota working arrangements. 

  • Am I entitled to my usual holiday if my school remains open or I am asked to work from home during the Easter holidays?

    The NEU believes that staff leave should be operated on a rota basis, so that staff get two weeks off before, during or after the period when the school would normally be closed for Easter.  Operating rotas based on weeks rather than days off would significantly reduce the number of colleagues with whom there is contact.

    Schools must ensure that staff get their expected leave from work.  It should not be assumed that staff can change their plans for the Easter period as family members' work arrangements may well be different.

  • I am a school leader - am I entitled to time off during Easter if my school continues to operate?

    School leaders are also entitled to time off and should not have unreasonable expectations imposed on them simply because, for example, their contract does not include a maximum of 195 working days’ working time.

  • Can TTO members of support staff who work during the Easter holidays receive an additional payment or TOIL?

    In normal circumstances, Term-Time Only (TTO) paid support staff are not employed to work during school holiday periods, and the current crisis does not alter that fact. If schools want TTO staff to work during the holidays eg to look after the children of designated "key workers", then those staff who volunteer should be appropriately additionally recompensed on an agreed basis, either by the payment of the correct rate for overtime or the granting of time off in lieu (TOIL) at the same enhanced rate to be taken at some future point.

  • Can teachers who work during the Easter holidays receive an additional payment or TOIL?

    There has been no Government statement on extra pay or time off in lieu (TOIL) arrangements for teachers; and the School Teachers’ Pay & Conditions Document (STPCD) includes no entitlement to overtime pay or TOIL. Where local arrangements for keeping schools open during this year’s Easter holidays envisage teachers volunteering to work additional days on top of their scheduled 195 days, however, they should receive additional pay or TOIL as agreed for those additional working days.  Any such arrangements should, however, ensure that teachers do take an appropriate break and that all additional working is entirely voluntary. 

  • Can we ask the school to employ supply teachers (who might appreciate the opportunity to work over Easter) instead of regular staff?

    Yes. If you believe that will help with managing staff attendance during Easter, you should suggest it to your Head. They will of course need to have all necessary clearance of work and there will need to be some regular staff present.

  • Will schools be open on Good Friday & Easter Monday or for the whole Bank Holiday weekend?

    NEU NAHT & ASCL have jointly advised that we do not expect schools to have to open on Good Friday and Easter Monday.  However, we are aware that there is increasing concern about the pressure on the NHS over this period and we know that many schools are now considering how best they can play their part over the Easter bank holidays.

    Schools and colleges considering opening on these days should first determine whether or not demand exists for provision from key worker parents, many of whom will have alternative arrangements already in place, and depending upon response engage their own staff to determine availability. Our expectation is that take-up is likely to be low, and so in many cases we still expect that schools will be closed. Any staff working on these days should do so on the basis that they have volunteered to help in these extraordinary circumstances.

    We would emphasise that this is a matter for local judgement and local agreement.

  • Should we be paid additionally for the two Bank Holidays if school plans to open?

    Please see our advice on extra pay or time off in lieu for teachers and support staff who work additional days during this year’s Easter holidays.  Where staff wish to receive additional pay or TOIL for work on Bank Holidays, this should form part of the agreement reached locally on opening arrangements.

Other employment-related questions

  • Should Statutory Consultation on academy conversion be frozen?

    The NEU says that consultation cannot be meaningful when a school is closed as the law’s requirements cannot be met. If employers continue with this process, you should, collectively, make representations about freezing the process and if necessary seek NEU support. We will seek to stop unreasonable employers seeking to act unreasonably.

  • Should redundancy consultation be discontinued?

    The NEU says that consultation cannot be meaningful when a school is closed as the law’s requirements cannot be met. If employers continue with this process, you should, collectively, make representations about freezing the process and if necessary seek NEU support. We will seek to stop unreasonable employers seeking to act unreasonably.

  • Will appraisal cycles continue as normal and will we move up the pay scale?

    It will not be possible to operate appraisal arrangements during the school closure period.  That means that all employers must accept there is only one fair way to proceed on pay progression.  PRP is any case damaging and unjustified but clearly cannot operate if schools and colleges are closed.  Staff must not be penalised when we recover from this crisis by having pay progression denied.  The NEU therefore urges employers to agree now to set aside PRP this year (as some are already doing anyway) and agree that all eligible staff will receive pay progression.  The NEU will support any member who is denied pay progression this year.

  • Will NQTs be able to complete induction?

    We have called on DFE to confirm that all NQTs will complete induction where they were on course to do so.  Otherwise, this is likely to depend on how long schools are closed for. If it is just a few weeks NQTs should be able to complete their induction as normal. If the closure period becomes lengthy it may be necessary to add an extra term to the induction period. This should be fully discussed and agreed with you.

  • What about QTS completion for student teachers?

    The Government has announced that absence with regard to Covid-19 will not prevent a trainee's completion of the course and you would still be awarded QTS this summer if you are on course to do so. It is vital that you stay engaged with your course and complete work set remotely. If you are unwell or have other extenuating circumstances, contact your course provider to ensure you are not disadvantaged.

  • What about SCITT trainees who require 120 days work in school?

    As above. The DfE has temporarily removed the requirement to gain experience across 4 school years, 2 different schools, and across the full age and ability range of training.

  • Can fixed-term contracts, maternity cover contracts or probationary contracts be terminated when the school closes?

    We would hope that schools would understand the unusual circumstances we are in and the economic uncertainty presented to individuals if their contracts are terminated. If you contract is terminated, you should seek out assistance immediately.  You are still entitled to receive notice pay and you should check your contract for notice provisions.

  • Will procedures eg Discipline capability be frozen or abandoned?

    The NEU says that these procedures cannot continue when a school is closed as the law’s requirements cannot be met and individuals’ health my be placed at risk. If employers continue with this process, you should, collectively, make representations about freezing the process and if necessary seek NEU support. We will seek to stop unreasonable employers seeking to act unreasonably.

  • I’m due a support plan review in two weeks’ time - will that be put on hold?

    Given the current situation we would expect schools to suspend all forms of capability. With schools closing it will be impossible for support plans to be effectively carried out or reviewed.

Continuing basic precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus