The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, along with other trade unions representing supply staff working in education, have written to the Department for Education to press for clarification on the operation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) during the current national lockdown and the closure of schools to some pupils.
Currently, significant numbers of supply staff are unable to work, have had work cancelled, or have drastically reduced employment opportunities. This is leaving hard working and dedicated supply staff facing increased financial uncertainty and hardship.
The vast majority of education supply staff are employed by agencies and members report that very few are prepared to place them on furlough, often citing the costs, notably National Insurance and pension payments, borne by the employer under the current version of the CJRS.
The joint letter calls upon the Government/DfE to:
send a direction and provide adequate funding to ensure that supply staff on a live assignment continue to be paid from the budget of the school, with those who had their assignments terminated early reinstated on the original terms;
assess whether the current employer contributions within the CJRS, covering National Insurance and pension contributions, are acting as a disincentive for agencies to furlough workers;
ensure that agencies do the right thing and place education workers without current employment on furlough to allow them to weather these particularly difficult times and ensure they are available to work in what will undoubtedly be challenging months ahead.
The joint letter has been signed by the NASUWT, AEP, GMB, NAHT, NEU, Prospect and UNISON.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:
“The fact that a range of trade union organisations have come together on this issue shows the critical importance of ensuring that supply staff unable to access work are treated fairly and equitably and receive the fullest amount of financial support available from the Government at this critical time, either through stronger direction from the DfE and/or through the auspices of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
“It cannot be right that hard working and dedicated supply staff, who have been fundamental to ensuring that schools control to function during the ongoing pandemic, are being prohibited and excluded from financial assistance at such a critical time. These are the very people that schools will rely on going forwards, so they must be treated with dignity and respect.”