The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union is today (15 Sept) highlighting how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the unfair and unjust treatment of supply teachers, many of whom are struggling to find work.

The NASUWT motion to the TUC Congress highlights with concern that much of the UK economy is based upon low paid and insecure work, including education.

The education sector is identified as having the some of the fastest growth in insecure work, leading to a growing use of largely unregulated umbrella companies, which make vast profits while depressing teacher pay.

The NASUWT motion calls on the TUC General Council to lobby the Government and MPs for laws to ensure workers have the right to refuse to be employed through an umbrella company.

It also calls for a licensing scheme to monitor and review compliance of employment businesses and umbrella companies operating in education and prohibit public sector bodies to uses agencies and umbrella companies which fail to meet minimum standards.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said:

“Supply teachers make a really valuable contribution to pupils’ education and schools need to be confident they can call upon an available pool of supply teachers as they seek to maintain provision throughout the crisis and beyond. 

“But the NASUWT is deeply concerned that the current system is failing to support teachers or to benefit children, young people and schools.

“Supply teachers often have no choice but to obtain work via different supply agencies, leaving them vulnerable to the vagaries of precarious, intermittent and insecure employment and those vulnerabilities have worsened during this pandemic.

“The Government needs to intervene to extend the provision of financial support for supply teachers during this incredibly challenging time.

“The NASUWT is calling for Ministers to prioritise additional job protection funding for supply teachers who cannot get work as a result of the COVID-safety measures that schools are expected to implement.”

The text of the motion is as follows:

Congress notes that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed how much of the UK economy is based upon low-paid, insecure and intermittent employment, often through employment businesses or umbrella companies.

Congress further notes that the education sector is one of the sectors identified as having the fastest growth in insecure work.

Congress deplores the growing trend towards the casual isa took of work, precarious employment and the use of umbrella companies, who make substantial profits and are largely unregulated, whilst depressing the pay of supply teachers.

Congress believes that this trend has brought into sharp focus practices whereby supply teachers have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and have been paid at only 80% of the National Minimum Wage. 

Congress calls upon the General Council to:

  1. lobby the Government and parliamentarians for specific legislation to ensure that workers have the right to decide whether or not to be employed through an umbrella company;
  2. press for a licensing scheme to monitor and review compliance of employment businesses and umbrella companies operating in education; and
  3. campaign for public procurement rules to be strengthened so that public sector bodies are prohibited from using employment agencies and umbrella companies which fail to meet minimum standards.

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