Please read this advice alongside the NEU’s main FAQ advice for members which covers a range of general matters.

How is NEU supporting reps and members who are now no longer in direct contact with one another in the workplace?

It is crucial that reps in FE colleges sign up to future virtual networking events and communication groups in order to discuss these issues and provide feedback as to what is happening on the ground. Please send us your permission to contact you regarding such events. Please also suggest topics and issues you would like to be discussed.

If you are a rep in a sixth form college there is an established virtual network that you can join. If you are a rep and not part of this network, please contact us.

What should we do to ensure we are consulted by our college management about new working arrangements?

While working practices such as rotas and timetables, methods of virtual teaching and learning and support for learners will be different, changes should happen in consultation with NEU reps and members. Reps should ask to be consulted on all changes to working practices before they are implemented and to be part of arrangements for ongoing monitoring and review.  Reps must be included in all staff communications in order to avoid isolation from working at home.  College managers should be asked to undertake, in consultation with reps, initiatives such as reviews of workload and work/life balance, stress surveys, and surveys on training needs relating to new working practices.

Where can I find NEU advice on safe working when in college?

NEU advice on safe working on college premises is here Where colleges work with LAs and schools to develop shared sites of working, this NEU advice may be relevant.

Where can I find guidance for distance teaching and safe working at home?

NEU has released guidance on distance learning and is working with post-16 stakeholders to ensure this is improved upon for every college. The AoC website contains advice on teaching and learning practice and supporting material which can be found here. We will continue to support members on issues around remote learning.

For advice on working safely at home, see our guidance here

What is the position on furloughing staff in FE colleges?

Colleges are able to furlough staff if absolutely necessary.  Where they do so, the NEU believes that staff pay should be maintained at its normal level nor reduced to the 80% reimbursed by Government.  The joint statement by AoC, NEU and other unions says that “We think it is proper that colleges consider use of the scheme to furlough staff when it is clear there is no other funding for their role and no work for them to do. Colleges are undoubtedly concerned about the security of their public funding and the damage to their income generation but will always treat staff fairly, try to protect salaries and wherever possible top up the salaries of furloughed staff to 100%.” 

What happens if I am on a fixed term or zero-hour contract?

NEU expects employers to continue to employ workers on flexible and zero-hour contracts who would have continued to have been employed.  This is supported by Government advice.

All flexible or fixed term contracts should be honoured to the end of the academic year and in line with any further support from government.  For Government guidelines see the AoC Coronavirus Resource Hub  and also see our general member FAQs for relevant advice. If your position comes under threat, contact the NEU Advice Line.

What is happening with vocational qualifications and apprenticeships during the crisis?

Consultations with awarding bodies and the Government is ongoing and there is need for further clarification. The latest information is here.

Our students need specific support around social distancing and motivation around learning – what's the advice?

To fully support SEND students, staff need further guidance, resources and different ways of working. NEU has produced specific advice for SEND settings.  The Government’s advice on social distancing is here.

How can I be protected from parental expectations around childcare, expected grades and student support?

To fully support learners’ staff will need further guidance, resources and different ways of working. NEU will work with stakeholders on this issue and has issued this advice.

Can the college demand I take my holidays now?

NEU does not agree that staff should be asked to take their holidays involuntarily. Any proposals must be discussed with trade unions.  This is not the time for colleges to make blanket decisions around leave or anything else without full support from the trade unions. We all want to be part of the solution, not creating further divisions or problems. Of course, there may be reason for reviewing holiday periods, but this must not happen without consultation and agreement.

What  other sources of information are available?

Information and guidance are changing rapidly at this time.  You can keep update with the latest information on post 16 education and training including assessment, safety protocols and support for the sector on our website here NEU Post 16.

You may also find the following links helpful:

Government Advice on COVID 19 for further education

Association of Colleges Resources for college staff

Education Support