Workplace Report (May 2021)

Bargaining news

Call for better deal for supply staff

The Easter conference of the National Education Union (NEU) took two decisions that could help improve terms and conditions for supply staff (who step in when regular staff are absent) and those working in independent schools (whose pension rights are being eroded).

Supply agencies have driven down pay and drained hundreds of millions of pounds from school funding, the union says. Supply staff are paid less than teachers in permanent posts and their day-to-day employment is uncertain. During the last lockdown, most agencies were reluctant to furlough supply staff, and many were left without any income unless they qualified for state support.

Better systems for supply provision are needed. Modern technology can put staff and schools directly in contact, cutting out the agencies. That system is already in operation in Northern Ireland.

The NEU also wants supply staff to be offered the opportunity to be employed as part of the government’s summer catch-up programme and education recovery plan, and says it is working to secure their rights under the agency workers’ regulations.

Meanwhile, independent school employers are resorting to fire and rehire in an attempt to steam-roller contractual change, including leaving the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS). A “watershed moment” has been reached, leaving teachers with little choice but to strike, as they successfully did at the Mall School in Richmond upon Thames.

This information is copyright to the Labour Research Department (LRD) and may not be reproduced without the permission of the LRD.