28th March 2003 at 00:00
A teacher has informed her head of department that she cannot mark pupils'

work, because she is unwell. She is not so unwell, however, that she does not come to school and take her classes. How should we respond?

Although a good employer will want to deal sympathetically with anyone who is unwell, a head must always place pupils' interests first. One is entitled to assume that someone who presents herself for work is fit to carry out normal duties. For a teacher, this includes the reasonable correcting and marking of work. If a teacher is not fit to do the whole job, she should not be there, unless some special arrangement has been agreed.

While a school might allow a day or two for this teacher to recover, her failure to mark work is unacceptable and, if she persists, makes her liable to disciplinary action. If she believes her work is unreasonable, she should raise that matter with the head and, if that fails to resolve the problem, she may resort to the grievance procedure.

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