Staff management, recruitment and retention FAQs

We are reviewing all FAQs on a regular basis – adding new questions as they arise, updating answers to existing questions as information changes, and removing obsolete questions. 

If you have a question which is not covered here, and you are an ASCL member, please email coronavirus@ascl.org.uk, and we will try to find an answer and share it here. 

These FAQs are provided for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal or professional advice. They represent ASCL’s views, but you rely on them at your own risk. For specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances, please contact your employer’s HR service or legal advisers.

The government guidance on the furlough scheme says that employers can require employees to take annual leave while on furlough, "If an employer requires a worker to take holiday while on furlough, the employer should consider whether any restrictions the worker is under, such as the need to socially distance or self-isolate, would prevent the worker from resting, relaxing and enjoying leisure time, which is the fundamental purpose of holiday."

Schools and colleges should ensure that support staff are given the opportunity to take sufficient, regular breaks from work. ASCL would advise that where employers wish employees to take leave they should carefully consider the amount given the limitations there are likely to be on them to be able to properly rest, relax and enjoy their leisure time during the current restrictions.

It would not be appropriate for employers to insist that staff take prolonged holidays to use up their leave whilst the current restrictions are in place, as this could lead to some staff experiencing social isolation and impact negatively on their mental wellbeing.   
 

(This relates to maintained nursery schools, for school-based nursery provision please refer to the advice for schools.)

On 17 March 2020, the Chancellor confirmed the government will continue to pay local authorities for free early years entitlement places for 2, 3 and 4 year-olds, even if settings are closed or children are not able to attend as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

A setting can access this scheme to cover up to the value of the proportion of its pay-bill which could be considered to have been paid for from that nursery’s non-entitlement income. This would typically be income received from ‘parent-paid’ hours beyond the government’s free entitlements (or ‘DSG income’), for all age groups. Providers should initially use a typical week in February 2020 to represent their usual income proportions in calculating the proportion of its pay bill eligible to be covered by the scheme. Providers should adjust these proportions in subsequent furloughing applications if their income from the government’s free entitlements changes but are not expected to make any adjustments in relation to changes in parent paid income. The updated government guidance contains some examples/illustrations to assist settings. 

Further guidance for this sector is available here and will be updated as more detail becomes available. 

The scheme only reimburses up to 80% of the employee’s regular wage capped at £2,500 gross per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. Employers would therefore need to pay the balance of the employer pension contributions for the Local Government Pension Scheme/Teachers’ Pension Scheme.   

An employer can also choose to top up an employee’s salary beyond this but is not obliged to under this scheme. However, we would strongly recommend that employers do this wherever possible to ensure that any staff who are furloughed do not suffer any financial detriment.

We also recommend that any members considering using this scheme consult the government guidance and seek HR advice.
 

Although the scheme states that it is open to public sector employers, the Government previously made it clear that this was not an option for schools and colleges. However, in the latest updated guidance this has changed.

The Government has now acknowledged that schools may have a separate private income stream that has now either ceased or been reduced and there would be workforce that typically work on activities relating to these private income streams.

Government advice is that schools should first look to make the necessary savings from their existing budget or consider options to re-deploy (for example, catering, sports lettings, boarding provision etc.) these staff before opting to furlough them. Only after all other potential options have been fully considered should schools furlough those affected staff and access the CJRS scheme, provided that the following conditions have been met:

a.    the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and/or whose salary is not covered by public funding;

b.    the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off;
c.    the employee is not involved in provision that has been already been funded;
d.    (where appropriate) the employee is not required to deliver provision for a child of a key worker and/or vulnerable child; and
e.    that the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not be duplicative to other public grants that you receive and would not lead to financial reserves being created for your organisation. (This means that schools must be able to demonstrate that all of the salary costs covered by the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would normally have been paid using income outside GAG or LA delegated budget lines).

Where these conditions are met, schools should receive a grant from the CJRS which is in line with the proportion of its pay bill which could be considered to have been funded by a school’s private income.
The scheme only reimburses up to 80% of the employee’s regular wage capped at £2,500 gross per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. Employers would therefore need to pay the balance of the employer pension contributions for the Local Government Pension Scheme/Teachers’ Pension Scheme.  Employers’ guidance on accessing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found here.

An employer can also choose to top up an employee’s salary beyond this but is not obliged to under this scheme. However, we would strongly recommend that employers do this wherever possible to ensure that any staff who are furloughed do not suffer any financial detriment.

We also recommend that any members considering using this scheme consult the government guidance and seek HR advice.
 

No, the scheme states that to be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee can not undertake any work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue.
 

Acas guidance says that employers must select people for furlough in a fair way to avoid any discrimination.  

They should:

  • get agreement in writing and be clear how much the employee or worker will get paid during their furlough
  • keep furloughed workers on the employer's payroll and continue their employment contracts
  • make sure furloughs last at least 3 weeks
However, HMRC have said that ‘the employer and the employee must reach an agreement and an auditable written record of this agreement must be retained. It does not necessarily follow that the employee will have provided written confirmation that such an agreement was reached in all cases."
 

The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have previously furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June.

This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June, in order for the current three week furlough period to be completed by 30 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June. Find out more information on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.


 

We have checked this with HMRC who have confirmed that employees can be furloughed for individual contracts.  For example, if a member of staff has two contracts, with one being as a Teaching Assistant and one being for Breakfast Club, the Teaching Assistant contract cannot be furloughed, but the Breakfast Club contract can.

Employers just need to calculate the amount of grant that they are permitted to claim for each employee and add that to their claim, with one amount per furloughed employee.  NB this should be calculated in line with the government advice about private income streams as a proportion of total pay bills.

 

Where schools and colleges or local authorities use public funding to employ workers directly but on an ad-hoc basis, for instance workers who work on a zero-hours or casual basis, they may continue to engage these workers where they are needed during this period. If these workers continue to be provided with work they should be paid as normal under the terms of their contracts, from existing financial budgets.

Where schools and colleges or local authorities had expected to use their public funding to engage such workers and had budgeted for this, but work is no longer needed due to COVID-19, we encourage schools to follow the approach for casual workers set out in paragraph 20 of the Procurement Policy Note 02/20 on contingent workers impacted by COVID-19. This will ensure directly-hired casual workers have access to the same levels of support as casual agency workers during the COVID-19 period.

The Government advises that schools should pay the worker at 80% of their typical pay (capped at £2,500 gross), in a similar way to agency workers who were not on live assignments when schools began closing or reducing capacity.   The full guidance can be found here.

In line with our advice on those employees that schools and colleges are permitted to furlough, we would recommend that employers pay these staff at 100% and ensure that any pension contributions due are also topped up. 
 

What will happen in the autumn exam season is unknown and will impact differently on different schools. Schools should consult with their HR provider to discuss how invigilator hours should be covered and/or reimbursed where payments for hours during the cancelled summer season were made. 
 

Bursaries, scholarships, school direct and apprenticeship payments are confirmed to continue as normal. For schools recruiting school direct trainees, interviews for next year’s students can be carried out online, and supporting documentation viewed online. Deadlines have been extended. 

Updated guidance is available here
 

No.  The DfE have issued Guidance on induction for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) and absences as a result of COVID-19.  Subject to parliamentary agreement, this states that NQTs absent for reasons related to the current COVID-19 public health emergency will not have their induction period automatically extended.

Current arrangements state that ad-hoc absences totalling 30 days or more automatically extends induction by the aggregate number of days absent. However, the DfE intend to amend the regulations to ensure that any absence related to COVID-19, including school closures, sickness or self-isolation, will not count towards this limit. This means that NQTs who are currently undertaking statutory induction can complete their induction this academic year as expected, provided they meet the Teachers’ Standards.
Headteachers and appropriate bodies should continue to judge whether a NQT has met the Teachers’ Standards upon completion of the induction period, which for most, will be the end of the academic year.
If there are concerns that a NQT has not achieved the standards by the end of their induction period, we would strongly encourage headteachers and appropriate bodies to exercise their discretion to recommend an extension, allowing the NQT further time and opportunity to demonstrate their ability to meet the standards.
More detailed advice is available here.

* produced jointly with NAHT

 

Placements for trainee teachers have been formally suspended. Providers (universities and SCITTs) will support trainee teachers to complete their training through assignments. Where trainee teachers are on a positive trajectory at the end of the programme, their provider will be able to recommend them for QTS. 

There is a similar expectation for provider judgements to be made for NQTs. For those who were not making expected progress as a trainee or NQT, we are expecting guidance from the DfE next week. 

Further information on trainee teachers can be found on the UCET website

For further information on NQTs contact your appropriate body for induction. 

 

Employers are not permitted to make payment in lieu of any unused statutory annual leave unless the worker is leaving employment. If an employer has agreed additional contractual annual leave above the statutory minimum, this would still be covered by any separately agreed contractual arrangements.

The DfE’s view is that appraisals and performance management for support staff should be carried out in accordance with the employee’s contract of employment. The department does not specify pay or terms and conditions of employment for support staff.

Nevertheless, they have also said that they expect schools to take sensible and pragmatic steps to adapt their performance management arrangements to take account of the current circumstances. This may mean basing performance on a more limited time period – that is while ‘normal’ circumstances prevailed. 

However, employers should be cautious that such an approach does not disadvantage staff who may not have had the opportunity to fully demonstrate their ability to meet their objectives or those who were working towards particular targets which they now no longer have the opportunity to meet. 

Employers may therefore wish to consider temporarily postponing or delaying the performance management processes. Again, however, we would caution employers that they should ensure that any decision does not disadvantage staff, and that trade unions are consulted as appropriate.

Support staff employed on NJC terms and conditions are not subject to performance-related pay, this also applies to any staff who enjoy TUPE protections. 

For other support staff who may be subject to performance-related pay, we would encourage employers to follow the same advice given for teachers.
 

The DfE officials have said that they expect schools to use their discretion and take pragmatic steps, consistent with the Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012 to adapt their performance management and appraisal arrangements to take account of the current circumstances. 

For those schools bound by the STPCD, who are required to undertake performance related pay assessments, this may mean basing performance for the purposes of awarding pay on the period schools were open, adjusting, if necessary, for expected trajectory had there been no closures.

However, employers should be cautious that such an approach does not disadvantage staff who may not have had the opportunity to fully demonstrate their ability to meet their objectives or those who were working towards particular targets which they now no longer have the opportunity to meet. This is also applicable when considering applications to move to, or through, the Upper Pay Range.

Employers may therefore wish to consider temporarily postponing or delaying the performance management processes. Again, however, we would caution employers that they should ensure that any decision does not disadvantage staff, and that trade unions are consulted as appropriate.

 

No. Teachers on maternity leave should be allowed to continue with their maternity leave as planned and should not be contacted to discuss ending it early. Any arrangements to cover them should be left in place and temporary contracts honoured.

* produced jointly with NAHT

The government has confirmed that the International Teacher Recruitment Programme will continue to recruit international teachers for the 2020 to 2021 academic year. This programme supports state-funded secondary schools in England to recruit maths, physics, computer science, general science and modern foreign languages teachers from a number of other countries.  The focus will be on recruiting teachers to start in January 2021 rather than September 2020, in case travel restrictions and the closure of visa application centres continue. More information is available here
 

ASCL, LGA, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU and NGA have agreed the following joint statement on this issue: 

"The Easter period and thereafter is typically a very busy time for school recruitment. In light of the current school closures, there may well be disruption to the recruitment and resignation processes for those schools governed by or using the Burgundy Book provisions; in particular the requirement for teachers to provide written notice by 31 May of their intention to leave a school’s employment by 31 August of any year. (For head teachers the deadline to provide written notice is by 30 April of their intention to leave a school’s employment by 31 August of any year). 

The extent of the impact will vary from school to school and therefore we do not believe that there should be any changes to the notice periods. In this difficult period, there will need to be an element of flexibility all round. We would encourage schools to have a flexible response, if it appears that teachers and leaders are impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and submit a resignation outside of the normal timeframe. For those employees that are looking to resign and/or retire themselves, we would encourage you to provide your governing boards and/or senior leadership team with as much notice as possible and stay within the standard notice period dates as far as is possible, as you would do in normal circumstances. It may also be helpful to direct boards to NGA's current guidance on managing the head teacher recruitment process in the current situation. 

In terms of recruitment, schools may wish to consider managing applications and interviews virtually while the advice from the government is to remain at home or choose to delay advertising vacancies until later in the year. Schools should not be conducting face to face interviews or encouraging applicants to visit schools during this period. 

We are raising the potential impact of any disruption with the DfE, asking for further guidance and support for schools to ensure that there is not a deficit of teachers and/or leaders, who have been unable to move around the system, ready for the Autumn term."
 

If you have made an unconditional job offer to the prospective employee and they have accepted it, withdrawing the offer will amount to a breach of contract and the prospective employee may be entitled to claim damages. Although employers are legally required to provide employees with a statement of employment particulars, the failure to make an offer of employment in writing will not prevent a binding contract of employment forming provided a prospective employee accepts the same.  

The prospective employee’s acceptance does not have to be in writing to be binding. For example, an employee can accept an offer via a phone call or face to face conversation, as well as in writing through an email, text message or letter. If the prospective employee has accepted the offer of the new role, they may already have given notice of resignation to their current employer; teachers would have had to have done this by 28 February if they are on Burgundy Book terms and conditions.

*produced jointly with NAHT

There are no plans at a national level, as far as we are aware, to put staff movement between jobs on hold. We would advise any employer or employee who wishes to change a resignation date, in light of the current crisis, to discuss this with all parties concerned, including any prospective employer. Employees would need to be mindful of any contractual obligations placed on them if they have already signed a contract with the new employer.

Schools and colleges will need to review their staffing arrangements for the new academic year based on any changes as they become aware of them. 



 

Yes. They will need to follow the relevant requirements with regards to notice to their employer and pension provider.

This is a matter for the employer, who would need to consider whether they were happy to accept the retraction.

If the member of staff had being due to start a new job elsewhere in education, they would need to be aware that, if they have signed a contract with their new employer, there may be contractual obligations within that.

The DfE has said that schools/colleges can continue with recruitment, where it is necessary and practical to do so, in line with social distancing guidelines.  Clearly it is not possible in the current circumstances to ask anyone to travel or attend an interview in person. Any employer continuing with a recruitment process should be doing so entirely remotely and many are choosing to pause any recruitment until the situation is more stable.  However, schools will need to ensure that all employment laws are met and that applicants have equality of opportunity throughout the selection process.

The National Governance Association (NGA) has issued guidance on how governing boards should recruit headteachers during coronavirus (COVID-19).

Schools should note that the DfE is asking publicly funded schools to use the Teaching Vacancies service. This is a free, national service for searching and listing teaching roles. Listing vacancies here will help save schools money and enable the department to gather information on the impact of school closures on teacher recruitment.

 

It is not for employers to determine the severity of an employee’s health condition. Employees and their medical advisers are best placed to decide this, and they will need to follow the government and NHS guidelines with regards to self-isolating or shielding. Employers should not suggest to any employee with an underlying health condition, as defined by the government, that they should attend work.*  

* produced jointly with NAHT

In addition, the updated government guidance now states;
Our Implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings sets out that staff with conditions that mean they are clinically vulnerable, meaning that they are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus such as those who are pregnant, are advised to take extra care in observing social distancing and should work from home where possible. Education and childcare settings should endeavour to support this, for example by asking staff to support remote education, carry out lesson planning or other roles which can be done from home.

The Government has announced that it plans to relax the shielding advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable from 1 August. From this date, the clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer be advised to shield. The Government will be producing further guidance on this, but they have said that those clinically extremely vulnerable staff who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work as long as their workplace is COVID secure, adhering to the guidance available.

It is ASCL’s view that the employer would need to be able to show that they could not offer staff in this group a way to work from home, and we feel that is unlikely.

When the Government publishes the updated guidance we will update our FAQs.

 

No. The government guidelines over self-isolation are very clear. The national agreements for teachers and support staff also state that any absences relating to this are not reckonable against the employee’s entitlement to sick leave. As such, it would be inappropriate to deal with them through the normal absence management procedures and impose any sanctions.

* produced jointly with NAHT
 

Employers are not permitted to make payment in lieu of any unused statutory annual leave unless the worker is leaving employment. If an employer has agreed additional contractual annual leave above the statutory minimum, this would still be covered by any separately agreed contractual arrangements.
 

No. Teachers on maternity leave should be allowed to continue with their maternity leave as planned and should not be contacted to discuss ending it early. Any arrangements to cover them should be left in place and temporary contracts honoured.

* produced jointly with NAHT
 

Quarantine should be treated in the same way as self-isolation. If the member of staff has no symptoms or is well enough to work, they should be allowed to work from home for the isolation period and in which case they would be entitled to normal pay.  Where their role cannot be done from home, they should still be paid their normal pay.

Employers will need to consider how they will manage the implications from this. They could do this by requesting that all staff declare now what their holiday plans are so that they can assess how many staff may be self-quarantining at the start of September (and possibly the autumn half term) and plan accordingly.  
Alternatively, they could seek to amend their policies so that staff are not able to book any holidays that may require self-quarantining in September, although they will need to go through the relevant consultation processes to do this.

Employers need to bear in mind that the latter would mean effectively restricting the holiday period from six to four weeks for staff who wish to travel abroad. This would also affect staff who may wish to visit family and friends who they have been unable to see for an extended period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

The Government guidance on this has been updated.

For ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’: If a member of staff lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out in the guidance on Shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable, it is advised that they should only attend work if stringent social distancing can be adhered to. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, they should be supported to work from home.

Colleagues who live with someone in the most vulnerable health groups, as set out in the guidance on shielding should not be included on staff rotas for working in school as it is highly unlikely that the required stringent social distancing can be adhered to. It is essential that we do all that we can to reduce the number of people who would require hospitalisation if they caught the virus. Colleagues should not, in addition to all their other worries, be afraid that, because of their attendance in school, they will infect vulnerable relations who they live with.

The Government has announced that it plans to relax the shielding advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable from 1 August. From this date, the clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer be advised to shield. The Government will be producing further guidance on this, but they have said that those clinically extremely vulnerable staff who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work as long as their workplace is COVID secure, adhering to the guidance available.

It is ASCL’s view that the employer would need to be able to show that they could not offer staff in this group a way to work from home, and we feel that is unlikely.

When the Government publishes the updated guidance we will update our FAQs.

For ‘clinically vulnerable’: If a member of staff lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting.

ASCL would advise employers to be sympathetic to requests to work from home from staff in this category.  
 

Employers should also be aware that if a worker becomes sick while taking annual leave, then any remaining booked annual leave would be reclassified as sick leave and the worker would be entitled to carry any unused days into the next leave year, in addition to the 20 days now allowed. 
 



 

Yes, it applies to any staff who have an annual leave entitlement which they book rather than being employed on a term-time only contract. The new Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 will apply for workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19. They will now be able to carry four weeks (20 days) of leave, in addition to any existing contractual entitlements to carry leave forward, over into the next two leave years, easing the requirements on business to ensure that workers take the statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.
 
Schools and colleges should ensure that support staff are given the opportunity to take sufficient, regular breaks from work. It would not be appropriate for employers to insist that staff take prolonged holidays in long blocks to use up their leave whilst the current social distancing rules are in place, as this could lead to some staff experiencing social isolation and impact negatively on their mental wellbeing. The guiding principle of the four weeks of annual leave is to protect health, safety and wellbeing through adequate rest so employers should continue to bear this in mind.
 

If the employee does not wish to attend the workplace and is not in one of the groups PHE says should self-isolate, the employer must listen to the concerns of the employee. 

On 2 June, Public Health England published a review of the disparities in the risk and outcomes from coronavirus, including disparities associated with age, ethnicity, gender and geography. This review will inform the Government’s approach. When considering their preparations for wider opening, schools should be especially sensitive to the needs and worries of individuals who may be more severely affected by coronavirus. 

Employers should especially consider the needs of any employees who may have particular cause for concern about the risk of infection, such as pregnant women, those with compromised immunity and employees in the groups identified by PHE and the WHO as at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19. 
If an employee has a disability within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010 which results in a compromised immune system or a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19, the employer may have a legal duty under that Act to make reasonable adjustments to the employee’s working arrangements.

The employer should carefully consider concerns expressed by staff in the light of its obligations to take reasonable steps to provide a safe working environment.   ASCL would advise employers to ensure that they address these areas in their risk assessments.

Whilst staff not in the groups identified by the PHE of the WHO should be able to come into school, it is natural that some employees will be worried about doing so even if the risks for them are very low. 

In agreeing the best approaches for their schools, headteachers and school leaders should work closely with employees and unions, where appropriate. School leaders will be in the best position, knowing their staff and school circumstances, to decide how to proceed in individual cases. 

We are working in an unprecedented context, and more reassurance and discussion than usual may be required. It is always best, if at all possible, to work out a sensible way forward in individual cases that acknowledges any specific anxieties but which also enables the school’s responsibilities to be effectively discharged. If you need support in finding a solution, speak to your local authority or trust.

Acas has recommended that, where there are genuine concerns, the employer must try to resoIve these to protect the health and safety of their staff by, for example, offering flexible working. Alternatives which might be agreed are taking annual leave or taking a period of unpaid leave.

Where an employee says they are unwilling to attend work because one or more work colleagues or pupils are not following hygiene rules and they fear they are placed at increased risk, the employer will need to consider the employee’s concerns very carefully before deciding how to respond.

In addition, in some extreme cases the anxiety caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 will itself render the employee unfit to work and entitled to sick pay.
 

Staff attendance and leave: Will teachers and other school staff be entitled to sick pay for an absence caused by coronavirus, including the need to self-isolate if a member of their household has displayed symptoms or they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace?
Arrangements for teachers and school staff sick pay are agreed between employers and relevant unions. The DfE have confirmed that schools will receive the same level of funding regardless of any period of partial or complete closure, and so would expect pay to continue as normal.  The government have also confirmed that Statutory Sick Pay is payable for periods of self-isolation. We would expect employers to pay contractual sick pay where this is in place.
If the member of staff has no symptoms or is well enough to work, they should be allowed to work from home for the isolation period and in which case they would be entitled to normal pay.  Where their role cannot be done from home, they should still be paid their normal pay.
 

Yes.  The STPCD has not been disapplied and so teachers have a right, through their terms and conditions, to their PPA time. Headteachers and school leaders will want to take this into consideration when assessing staff availability and risk assessments in advance of wider opening.
 

Employers should have in place clear guidance and protocols for keeping in contacting with pupils and parents whilst schools are closed, including vulnerable children/young people and their families.
 
ASCL advises that schools and colleges adopt the following as part of their procedure:

  • Contact and conversations should be logged (including unsuccessful attempts) and undertaken with the full knowledge of the DSL.
  • The school/college/key contact sets out clear expectations for families – a regular day and a time when calls will be made. 
  • Parents and pupils are aware who they should contact in a crisis and the remit of their key contact.
  • Give staff a script for common questions or concerns (these will change as time goes on and should be regularly reviewed with staff).
The procedure will also need to make clear WHO is responsible for keeping in contact with pupils and parents.
 
Members of staff who know the young person well may be best placed to keep in regular touch (key worker, form tutor, LSA), rather than a member of the senior leadership team or DSL.
 
Consideration needs to be given as to how staff will be contacting pupils and parents in order to both ensure appropriate safeguarding measures are in place and to comply with relevant GDPR legislation.
 
ASCL’s advice is that staff should not contact children or their families using their own phone.
 
Ideally, staff should make contact via the school or college’s online systems.  Where this is not possible, ASCL would advise the purchase of cheap pay-as-you-go mobiles on behalf of the school or college wherever possible. These costs should be included in the school/college's list of additional costs as a result if the COVID-19 health emergency.  Where staff have to make the purchase themselves, they should be reimbursed as soon as possible. 

In order to support safeguarding, calls should be recorded, as should one-to-one video calls.
 

All staff working from home are being paid to work their contracted hours. The work they are doing at the moment is likely to include providing lesson resources for pupils either online or for those attending school or college and, where teachers have sufficient capacity, appropriate marking and feedback. School and college leaders should be mindful that in the current transition period this may be taking up a significant proportion, if not all, of a teacher’s contracted time (and more).

They should also be mindful that teachers who are also trying to look after their own children at home may not be as productive as usual. School and college leaders should therefore avoid putting onerous expectations on teachers in terms of marking or planning burden. It would be entirely counterproductive if teachers with children felt that they only way they could manage their workloads during this period would be to send their own children to school or college.  

It is not possible to mandate what proportionate marking and planning should look like, but the burden could be reduced by thinking carefully about the type of task set, and the use of self-marking online software, etc. 

The ASCL specialist team has produced some guidance for leaders and teachers on effective strategies for remote teaching and learning. 
 

The DfE fully recognise the pressure and uncertainty that schools and academy trusts are facing throughout the coronavirus outbreak and appreciate the need for pragmatism and sensitivity in the context of planned re-structures or redundancy. In the case of local authority maintained schools considering staff re-structuring and redundancy, it will be for local authorities to consider how best to support the governing bodies of the schools that they maintain at this time.

In the case of academies, academy trusts should assess their plans on a case-by-case basis. If academy trusts find themselves facing financial challenges as a result of these decisions, they can contact the DfE’s dedicated helpline at: DfE.CoronavirusHelpline@education.gov.uk.

In taking decisions about restructuring and redundancies, governing bodies of maintained schools and academy trusts will need to ensure they conduct processes in accordance with legal requirements, including requirements around consultation.

Given the unique current situation, ASCL believes that employers should consider carefully their ability to run meaningful consultation processes at the moment, particularly with regard to redundancy and restructuring. We would want to be assured that members were able to be properly represented during a time when trade unions, in line with government advice, are only undertaking essential travel. In addition, employers would need to ensure that members who are working from home are able to engage fully in the process. Where we have concerns over the viability of this we will be advising members accordingly.
 
On balance, we believe it would be very difficult, in the present circumstances, for an employer to be able to follow due process. We are concerned, if they were to attempt to do so, about the impact on the wellbeing of those both directly and indirectly involved.
 

The Department have said that they are considering each case on its specific merits and taking a pragmatic and sensitive approach. However, they have confirmed that there will be no new academy orders for schools judged to be inadequate by Ofsted during this time, as routine inspections have been suspended.

 

No.  The Department have said that they have already supported several schools to become academies on
1 April and 1 May.  For future months they have said that they will support schools to become academies where this will provide more benefits than downsides – such as certainty and clarity to all school staff about their employment status.

They will also continue to make decisions about changes to academy trusts and academies during this period, where these decisions will better serve the interests of the school system over the longer term and where they will provide greater certainty and clarity for schools, parents and pupils alike.

ASCL will be looking to employers to demonstrate that they above criteria is applicable and for assurances that the process can be carried out appropriately under the current circumstances.
 
On balance, we believe it would be very difficult, in the present circumstances, for an employer to be able to follow due process. We are concerned, if they were to attempt to do so, about the impact on the wellbeing of those both directly and indirectly involved.

The DfE have said that it will be for individual employers to decide how best to carry out TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) consultation during this period. They will need to consider how they will conduct these in accordance with legal requirements and proper consultation processes.

Given the unique current situation, ASCL believes that employers should consider carefully their ability to run meaningful consultation processes at the moment. We would want to be assured that members were able to be properly represented during a time when trade unions, in line with government advice, are only undertaking essential travel. In addition, employers would need to ensure that members who are working from home are able to engage fully in the process. Where we have concerns over the viability of this we will be advising members accordingly.

DfE guidance states that schools and colleges must continue to follow their legal duty to refer to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) anyone who has harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult. Full details can be found at paragraph 163 of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE).
 
The guidance also states that schools and colleges should continue to consider and make referrals to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) as per paragraph 166 of KCSIE and the TRA’s ‘Teacher misconduct advice for making a referral’. During the coronavirus period all referrals should be made by emailing Misconduct.Teacher@education.gov.uk.

Given the unique current situation, ASCL believes that employers should consider carefully their ability to deal with grievances, capability or disciplinary matters. We would want to be assured that members were able to be properly represented during a time when trade unions, in line with government advice, are only undertaking essential travel. In addition, employers would need to ensure that members who are working from home are able to engage fully in the process. Where we have concerns over the viability of this we will be advising members accordingly.

Any employers that do choose to proceed with any of these matters will need to ensure that they are carried out in line with all legal requirements.  Acas have produced some guidance which reminds employers that the law and Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures still apply during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The guidance advises that employers need to decide if the process can still be carried out fairly and reasonably if some or all of the people involved in the procedure are working from home.

If the process does go ahead employers must follow the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary or grievance procedures.  If a disciplinary or grievance case reaches an employment tribunal, judges will look at whether the employer has followed the Acas Code of Practice in a fair and reasonable way.

On balance, we believe it would be very difficult, in the present circumstances, for an employer to be able to follow due process. We are concerned, if they were to attempt to do so, about the impact on the wellbeing of those both directly and indirectly involved.
 

If supply teachers/staff are not directly employed by a school, college or local authority, but are an employee, agency worker, or on a zero hours contract, they should speak with their employer in the first instance. 

Any supply teachers/staff who are unsure on what type of worker they are can read employment status advice and guidance.
 

The Government expects schools to ensure any employees funded by public money continue to be paid in the usual fashion, from their existing staff budgets, in line with the HMRC guidance to public sector organisations.

For directly employed staff
Where schools have live assignments with supply teachers/staff (contingent workers) who are employed directly by the school then the school should continue to pay them and not furlough them.

Where schools have terminated contracts with contingent workers due to coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier than the original terms set out, and where the school was the workers’ employer under that contract, schools should reinstate these contracts on the terms previously agreed, as long as the contractor is not already accessing alternative support through another government support scheme.

For those employed through an agency please see the updated government guidance for the arrangements for these contracts. Schools are also advised to refer to all parts of the Procurement Policy Note 02/20 (PPN 02/20), which provides guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers for the purposes of ensuring the continuity of critical service during and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

For those employed through a Personal Services Company (PSC): please see the updated government guidance for the exact arrangements for these contracts.

Where the supply teacher’s PSC is paid by the school directly, schools are advised to follow the guidance set out in the Procurement Policy Note 02/20 (PPN 02/20). 
 
Where the supply teacher’s PSC is paid via an agency, it may be appropriate for a claim to be made under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Contractors who are deemed employees according to the off-payroll working rules might be eligible for this scheme.  Full details can be found in the guidance.

 

Where schools and colleges or local authorities use public funding to employ workers directly but on an ad-hoc basis, for instance workers who work on a zero-hours or casual basis, they may continue to engage these workers where they are needed during this period. If these workers continue to be provided with work they should be paid as normal under the terms of their contracts, from existing financial budgets.

Where schools and colleges or local authorities had expected to use their public funding to engage such workers and had budgeted for this, but work is no longer needed due to COVID-19, we encourage schools to follow the approach for casual workers set out in paragraph 20 of the Procurement Policy Note 02/20 on contingent workers impacted by COVID-19. This will ensure directly-hired casual workers have access to the same levels of support as casual agency workers during the COVID-19 period.

The Government advises that schools should pay the worker at 80% of their typical pay (capped at £2,500 gross), in a similar way to agency workers who were not on live assignments when schools began closing or reducing capacity.   The full guidance can be found here.

In line with our advice on those employees that schools and colleges are permitted to furlough, we would recommend that employers pay these staff at 100% and ensure that any pension contributions due are also topped up. 
 

If supply teachers/staff are not directly employed by a school, college or local authority, but are an employee, agency worker or on a zero hours contract, they should speak with their employer in the first instance, and refer to the guidance for furloughed employees and workers.

If supply teachers/staff are self-employed, they should refer to the guidance for the self-employed income support scheme.

Any supply teachers/staff who are unsure on what type of worker they are can read this employment status advice and guidance.
 

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