The NASUWT teaching union has written to education secretary Gavin Williamson “as a matter of urgency” highlighting “unacceptable” practices of schools during the coronavirus pandemic.
It says they include ending fixed-term contracts of teachers without paying them to the end of the contract and withdrawing job offers from teachers who have already resigned from their current posts and were due to start after Easter.
In other cases, schools are requiring staff to come to work despite there being no pupils, including at one school where 25 staff had to come in for just 6 pupils, the union says.
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NASUWT acting general secretary Chris Keates said teachers and headteachers across the country had “magnificently risen to the challenge” of caring for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
But she said: “Regrettably, we are also experiencing the worst of employers who are choosing to ignore the reality of the current situation and callously, unfairly and unjustifiably continuing with practices which are adversely affecting teachers’ lives and livelihoods.
“Teachers rights and entitlements are being trampled over, as these opportunistic employers drive through procedures and processes and make decisions which will lead to job loss and in some cases immediate loss of income as contracts are prematurely terminated.”
The union says in the letter that it can provide the names of employers to the DfE, and requests that Mr Williamson acts to end these practices.
Other examples include:
- Teachers with vulnerable health conditions being told they should be at work.
- Threatening to deduct pay from teachers who are self-isolating or, in the case of NQTs, advising them that the days they take for self-isolation will be added to the time they will need to complete their induction.
- Employers continuing with staff restructuring and redundancies, despite the fact that they will not be able fully to meet all the provisions relating to consultation.
- Encouraging the early ending of maternity leave and then cancelling the contracts of teachers who have been employed to provide the maternity cover.
Ms Keates added: “There are too many other cases where employers are callously proceeding, making adverse life-changing decisions for teachers at a time of national crisis when teachers are at their most vulnerable, when their prospects of securing alternative employment are negligible and when access to their legal rights and remedies is restricted.
"This is nothing but naked opportunism from employers who are either incapable of grasping, or are choosing to ignore, the reality of the situation the country is facing. “
The DfE has been contacted for comment.