Supply members Coronavirus webpage

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NEU Checklist for supply members

If you are considering an offer of supply work or are asked by an agency to say whether you are available for supply work, read this NEU checklist for supply members before responding.

Returning to schools

Can I work in more than one school?

The DfE guidance states that supply staff and peripatetic staff can move between schools. Contact the NEU reps in each of the schools you are working in and ensure that you have details of the health and safety precautions before you enter the premises. Follow the advice in the supply checklist when responding to offers of work. If you are unable to get hold of the NEU rep, ask your agency to obtain this information.

At each school it is important that you minimise contact and maintain as much distance as possible from other staff. The NEU is pressing all employers to ensure that their safety procedures cover supply workers and other visitors. This is to make sure that the employer can continue to use supply staff and that they can work in safety.

Will I be permitted to wear a face mask or face covering in a school where I am assigned to work?

The NEU’s position (in line with HSE advice) is that any member of staff should be permitted to wear a face mask or face covering should they wish to do so.

More broadly, the latest DfE advice states that schools and colleges have the discretion to require the use of face coverings in indoor areas where social distancing cannot be maintained, and it is seen as the right thing to do. In areas of national intervention, however, where transmission rates are high, the guidance states that in schools/colleges where students in Year 7 and above are educated face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around indoors, including in corridors and communal areas.

The NEU believes that this position is unclear and that the approach taken in Scotland and Northern Ireland should be adopted i.e. that face coverings should be worn in communal areas in all secondary schools/colleges (not just those in areas where transmission rates are high) and that this should not be a matter of individual discretion for head teachers.

I have started working in two schools. I have been told by one school I must self-isolate for 14 days due to an outbreak of coronavirus at that school. What should I do?

First and foremost, you must not attend the second school. You should inform them as to what has happened. You can claim statutory sick pay if you are self-isolating because you’ve been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that you’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus. You should try and get this in writing.

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My agency is refusing to pay me SSP whilst I self-isolate. What can I do?

The advice is clear and can be accessed here https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay.

If you must self-isolate because you (or someone in your household or support bubble) has symptoms or has tested positive, or have been in contact with someone with coronavirus you are entitled to SSP. You are not entitled to SSP if you are self-isolating following a trip abroad.

If your agency is refusing to pay you SSP you can contact the HMRC Statutory Payment Disputes Team https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/statutory-payment-dispute-team

I am getting some work, but it is much less than normal. Can I get help?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ends on 31 October 2020. It will be replaced with the Job Support Scheme from 1 November. Under this scheme the government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than their normal hours due to decreased demand.

We await further details, but the NEU believes agency workers will be covered by this scheme if they pay PAYE.

For now, we know that employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The government and the employer will each pay a third of the employee’s normal wages, capped at £697.92 per month. If the employee does not have a “normal” salary, then it is expected a similar calculation will be carried out as existed under the CJRS.

If you are struggling financially contact the NEU hardship fund https://neu.org.uk/neu-hardship-fund, established to help members facing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Will my agency place me on the Job Support Scheme?

This is a voluntary scheme as was the CJRS so there is no obligation on an employer to utilise it. We understand that a lot of agencies are waiting for further details before they make a decision.

What is the self-isolation support scheme, and am I eligible?

The self-isolation support scheme is a one-off payment of £500 available to anyone who meets the following criteria: –  

•           you have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

•           you are employed or self-employed

•           you cannot work from home and will lose income as a result

•           you are claiming at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credits, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit.

The NEU is concerned that our supply members may not be able to claim this payment if

they are sent home by a school to self-isolate.

I am struggling to find any work at all as schools and colleges are just not using support staff. What will NEU do?

We are fully aware that our supply educator members are experiencing huge difficulties. We are: –

  • Lobbying the DfE to urge schools and colleges to make use of supply staff as normal and to ease workloads of permanent staff.
  • Lobbying the DfE to provide extra funding to schools and colleges to provide extra funding to school and colleges to help them engage supply staff.
  • Urging schools and colleges to directly employ supply staff.
  • We will question the government as to what support they will provide to people like supply staff who are unable to work through no fault of their own. The extension to the Job Support Scheme is currently only open to businesses forced to close because of local or national restrictions, and as stated above, the self-isolation support scheme may not apply.
  • We will shortly be issuing comprehensive guidance in the form of a toolkit for Districts & Branches to use in bargaining for alternatives to agencies (A2A).