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The NASUWT – the Teachers’ Union has welcomed the late acknowledgement from the Department of Education that it is a legal requirement for individual schools to consult with trade unions in relation to school risk assessments. Note: DE updated their guidance on 29 September 2020.

The guidance is available here.

The new text reads: “It is a legal requirement that employers must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by staff. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be”.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “The NASUWT welcomes the fact that the Department of Education have begun to properly address the issue of Health and Safety in schools. The Department need to explain why they removed the reference to consultation with unions from their June guidance and resisted all attempts by the NASUWT to rectify this situation until now.

“The NASUWT are disappointed that the Department have failed to notify school leaders in the cover email to schools that this change has been made to the guidance.

“The NASUWT wrote to all schools in August to remind them of their obligations in relation to risk assessments and while many are complying with the law we have found that the majority of our members have not been consulted. In fact 51% haven’t see a risk assessment.”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said: “The NASUWT fought tooth and nail to get this change. By accepting this change DE have accepted that our position was correct all along. DE now need to make sure that schools are following the legislation in this regard.

“They need to email school leaders to draw attention to the change making it clear that this is a change since version 4 of the guidance was issued on the 24th September. By listing the change under a heading of changes since the 13th August it is likely that readers may go no further”

“A cynical person might suggest that DE are trying to hide it.

“The NASUWT call on school leaders who have yet to consult with their staff as prescribed in the guidance and legislation to do so now in the interests of the health and safety of the whole workforce”.


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