Exclusive: 'Pay heads for Christmas track and trace'

Heads and senior leaders are being expected to be on call over the Christmas break to help trace Covid contacts, NASUWT warns

John Roberts

A union has called on heads to be given additional pay for any work they do track and tracing Covid contacts over Christmas.

A teaching union says that school leaders should receive additional pay if they agree to carry out track and trace work for Covid cases from their schools over the Christmas holidays.

The NASUWT teaching union said it is concerned that some employers are telling heads and other leadership team staff that they will be needed to support the test, track and trace system over the Christmas break.

The union said this will entail daily checking of emails and track-and-trace work connected to any positive cases at their school that emerge during the holidays.

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It has told its leadership members that there should be no need for heads to carry out this work and that anyone who agrees to do so should be paid additionally for each day they are on standby.

Tes revealed earlier this year that heads faced being on call throughout the year after becoming a relied-upon part of the country’s test and trace infrastructure.

The NAHT school leaders' union raised concerns about this during the half-term break.

Now, the NASUWT has raised concerns that its leadership members will be needed to work over Christmas.

The union has told its leadership member group members that if they have concerns about local arrangements for test and trace over the two week holiday, then they should object and contact the union for advice.

The union’s general secretary Patrick Roach said: “The NASUWT already has significant concerns about the level of workload that members are already dealing with during the autumn term and about the test and trace system. 

“The union has raised its concerns with both the Department for Education and the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (I-SAGE).

“Employers have a statutory responsibility in terms of duty of care to all employees, including the workload and working time of headteachers, which must continue to be regarded as an important consideration.

“The NASUWT will object vigorously where any employer seeks to unilaterally vary the contracts of employment or working time arrangements of headteachers or other leadership members by imposing changes to their working time.”

A spokesperson for the union added: “We have told our leadership members that if schools are to be asked to undertake this role in order to support the test and trace system, then: a) there is no need for headteachers to discharge this function – which, in any event, is a routine administrative and clerical task and thus prohibited under School Teacher Pay and Conditions document contracts; and b) any member of staff undertaking this responsibility should do so on the basis that they are willing to do so and that they would be remunerated additionally for every day that they are required to be on standby.”

The concerns come after Tes revealed that heads have also warned that they fear staff and pupils may need to isolate over Christmas if Covid infections rates in school remain the same in the last few weeks of term.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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