When your staff go on strike

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Following union action in July and with the possibility of more later this month in London, could you clarify the position of those not on strike? Must they come to school or can they work at home?

It is possible to instruct employees to work at places other than their normal place of work. But most education authority employers require those not taking part in a strike to report for duty at school. This is entirely reasonable and any employee who failed to turn up would be liable to lose pay.

If a school is forced to close as a result of union action, what is the position with regard to school meals?

The only statutory obligation relates to those pupils who qualify for free meals. Where possible, those pupils may be supplied with a packed lunch, which could be distributed from a location outside school. Where the school has taken over responsibility for providing lunches and the staff who prepare them are on strike, there may be nothing the school can do. In legal terms, no one can be expected to do what they are incapable of doing.

ALL the qualified first-aiders on our staff are non-teaching staff. Will I have to close the school if they go on strike?

Although it is obviously desirable that every school should have trained first-aiders on site, this is not a legal requirement. The fact that any are absent does not make the school unsafe or render you and your staff unable to fulfil your duty of care to pupils and each other. All that is required is that an injury should lead to a response which might be expected from any reasonable adult, including summoning appropriate medical help. But perhaps you should persuade some teaching staff to train in first aid, leading by example yourself.

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