NEU Checklist for supply members

If you are considering an offer of supply work or are asked by an agency to say whether you are available for supply work, read this NEU checklist for supply members before responding.

NEU position on January opening

The NEU has advised members that it is unsafe to return to the workplace at present – read more here. We recognise that school closures create particular problems for supply members.  The NEU will expect all ongoing engagements to be honoured during closures. 

There are NEU model letters to raise this issue with schools and colleges and to help those of you without engagements press your agency or umbrella company to furlough you.  If you are struggling financially, you can contact the NEU hardship fund, established to help members facing financial difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 crisis

Returning to schools

Can I work in more than one school?

The DfE guidance states that supply staff and peripatetic staff can move between schools. Contact the NEU reps in each of the schools you are working in and ensure that you have details of the health and safety precautions before you enter the premises. Follow the advice in the supply checklist when responding to offers of work. If you are unable to get hold of the NEU rep, ask your agency to obtain this information.

At each school it is important that you minimise contact and maintain as much distance as possible from other staff. The NEU is pressing all employers to ensure that their safety procedures cover supply workers and other visitors. This is to make sure that the employer can continue to use supply staff and that they can work in safety.

What is the NEU position on face masks as PPE and on wearing of face coverings?

The NEU believes that schools should comply with DFE advice on ensuring minimum use of face coverings but should go further in certain settings (including requiring them to be worn in the classroom by staff and students in secondary schools and colleges and by staff in other settings) and should permit all staff and students to wear them at all times if they wish.  Full details are available here.

I have started working in two schools. I have been told by one school I must self-isolate for 14 days due to an outbreak of coronavirus at that school. What should I do?

First and foremost, you must not attend the second school. You should inform them as to what has happened. You can claim statutory sick pay if you are self-isolating because you’ve been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that you’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus. You should try and get this in writing.

My agency is refusing to pay me SSP whilst I self-isolate. What can I do?

The advice is clear and can be accessed here.

If you must self-isolate because you (or someone in your household or support bubble) has symptoms or has tested positive, or have been in contact with someone with coronavirus you are entitled to SSP. You are not entitled to SSP if you are self-isolating following a trip abroad.

If your agency is refusing to pay you SSP you can contact the HMRC Statutory Payment Disputes Team.

I am getting some work, but it is much less than normal. Can I get help?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until March.

This version of the Scheme requires employers to pay the employer’s national insurance and pension contributions. This accounts for about 5% of the total employment costs.

As before, employees can receive up to 80% of their “normal” wages” (up to a cap of £2,500) from the government and the employer can choose to pay the other 20%.

Flexible furlough is still in place under the extended scheme, so employees are able to work for some of their “normal” hours, and be paid accordingly, whilst being furloughed for their remaining hours.

To be eligible to claim the employee must be paid under PAYE, and must have been on the employer’s payroll by 23:59 on 30 October 2020.

The Treasury’s Direction setting out details of the Scheme is available here

We have a drafted a letter for you to send to your agency or umbrella company to seek to persuade them to furlough you.

If you are struggling financially contact the NEU hardship fund, established to help members facing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Will my agency place me on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

As before this is a purely voluntary scheme which creates no legal rights for individuals. However, we know that many of our supply members are still struggling to secure assignments. We will actively encourage agencies to take advantage of the Scheme.

What is the self-isolation support scheme, and am I eligible?

The self-isolation support scheme is a one-off payment of £500 available to  individuals who

  • Meet the benefits-linked eligibility criteria, or
  • Qualify for a discretionary payment because they cannot work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating

The scheme is administered by local authorities.

Schools should provide to their local authority Self Isolation Service Hub the names of people who have been instructed to self-isolate. This will enable those people to obtain an NHS Test & Trace Account ID so an application for a payment under the Scheme can be made to their local authority.  

I am struggling to find any work at all as schools and colleges are just not using support staff. What will NEU do?

We are fully aware that our supply educator members are experiencing huge difficulties. We are: -

  • Lobbying the DfE to urge schools and colleges to make use of supply staff as normal and to ease workloads of permanent staff.
  • Lobbying the DfE to provide extra funding to schools and colleges to help them engage supply staff.
  • Urging schools and colleges to directly employ supply staff.
  • We will question the government as to what support they will provide to people like supply staff who are unable to work through no fault of their own. The extension to the Job Support Scheme is currently only open to businesses forced to close because of local or national restrictions, and as stated above, the self-isolation support scheme may not apply.
  • We have issued comprehensive guidance in the form of a toolkit for Districts & Branches to use in bargaining for alternatives to agencies (A2A).

I’m thinking of tutoring under the National Tutoring Programme. Do you have any advice?

Seek direct employment with a school or college if you can. The NTP has been dominated by commercial agencies and members have reported widespread exploitation of trainee teachers and supply staff under the tutoring scheme. If you can’t find direct engagement, ask the agency some questions before you commit to NTP training and tutoring.

Ask the agency to confirm in writing whether you will be paid to attend the training programme, and how many hours the training entails. Ask whether you will be directed, as a tutor, by a class teacher; whether you will be expected to plan and prepare for tutor sessions and if so whether you will be paid for this preparation time; whether you will be expected to assess pupil progress and if so whether you will be paid for this assessment time; and whether you will be paid for waiting time between tutor sessions. Ask whether you will be paid at national pay rates for teachers or teaching assistants, as appropriate.

If you decide to go ahead with tutoring, keep a detailed record of the date and time that you have been engaged in the training programme and in tutoring pupils, including preparation time, tutoring time, assessment time and any time meeting with classroom teachers or other school staff.

Keep in touch with your local NEU branch or district and seek advice if you think you have been underpaid.