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Supply staff

Advice for supply members, whether working via agencies or directly with schools, and for NEU branch and district officers supporting such members.

Supply teachers who are in a 'pool' maintained by a local authority (LA), those located through the school's own contacts, or part-timers who wish to temporarily increase their hours, are likely to be employees of the school or LA for their period of supply work.

As employees, supply teachers will qualify for the numerous protections and benefits that arise from such status.

These include:

These rights are the same as those enjoyed by full-time teachers in the maintained sector in England and Wales.

Advice for supply teachers

Supply members survey and charter

The NEU’s latest survey of supply members shows that, despite a teacher shortage and Covid absences, and regardless of the Government’s efforts to regulate the supply teacher market, there has been no increase in supply teacher pay compared with previous years.

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NEU supply member survey

The NEU’s annual supply member survey examines a range of issues relating to supply staff and their pay and employment.

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A charter for supply educators

This charter sets out the union’s aspirations for its supply teacher and support staff members and the steps which are necessary to achieve them.

Advice for agency workers

The position of teachers working for supply teacher agencies is less beneficial. Currently, these supply staff have no employment protection because they are not employed by the end-user (the school or college where they work). Their placement can be terminated, often on 24 hours' notice, with no right of challenge or redress.

Secondly, not being employees, they have no rights of equal treatment as to terms and conditions in comparison with their colleagues in the workplace, unless they have been employed by the same employer for twelve weeks.

Supply teachers employed through an agency can not join the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS).

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Agency worker regulations

What are the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 and what protection do they offer supply teachers and support staff?

Supply teachers

Agency worker pensions

Advice on your eligibility for and access to workplace pension schemes as an agency supply worker.

Alternatives to agencies graphic

Alternatives to agencies

A toolkit containing briefing and support materials for NEU branches and districts to help pursue improvements for NEU supply members.

Use the toolkit

Strike advice

Supply teachers engaged via agencies could not be included in the Union's ballots because agencies are not classed as employers and the union cannot frame a trade dispute with them. This is not something with which the union agrees – it’s a consequence of the stringent balloting regulations. However, if you are employed directly by a local authority, school or academy, you are eligible to take strike action.

There will however be solidarity actions that agency supply members can participate in on the strike days. If you are asked by your agency to cover for strike action, or you are asked to change your duties in order to carry out the work of those taking industrial action, the union strongly encourages you to refuse to do so in solidarity with striking colleagues. You may wish to inform your agency that you will not be available for work on the days where strike action is being called in your area.

Local districts have been asked to set up local industrial action hardship funds. Grants may be made to any member of the district whose circumstances cause a greater hardship for them or any dependent member of their family than that suffered by other NEU members as a result of their participation in industrial action where strike pay is not paid.

Supply members who refuse work on a strike day will be in the same position as our members who are taking action – they’ll lose a day’s pay.  Applicants to district hardship funds will all be judged by the same criterion which is that the adverse consequences suffered by the member are disproportionately worse than those suffered by other members.

If you would like to donate to our National Strike Fund which makes hardship payments to support our striking members taking part in disputes, then please email [email protected].

By emailing [email protected], you are providing consent for the NEU to process your data for the purposes of recording your donation. We will not use your data for any marketing purposes and we will not use your data to contact you for future donations.

Please find our privacy statement here [LINK].

If you are asked by your agency to cover for strike action, the union strongly encourages you to refuse to do so in solidarity with striking workers.

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