Commenting ahead of the Chancellor’s briefing on support for self-employed workers during the Covid-19 outbreak, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“In these unsettling times it is imperative that the Government gives support to those who need it. Sadly, their response to the plight of workers in recent days has been far from adequate.

“There is currently a lack of clarity in existing guidance about whether the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies to supply staff. Rishi Sunak has previously stated that all workers employed via PAYE are eligible for 80% cover up to a cap of £2,500 per month, but we believe this should be extended to all workers including the self-employed. The Chancellor must be explicit on this point.

“Supply teachers, agency teaching assistants and others working in the education sector must have proper financial stability, on a genuine like-for-like with their directly-employed counterparts.

“It is crucial to remember that supply has been the first part of the education system to be privatised. Even when fully employed, agency and supply workers include some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of the teaching profession.

“We are calling on our members to write to their MP demanding clarity on this issue. We are also urging schools to continue to employ supply and agency staff during this period and many have agreed to do so.”