Covid-19 education closures – from UNISON National

Following government decisions to close schools, colleges and early years settings from the end of Friday 20 March, UNISON continues to have discussions with government departments and employers across the UK about the implications for staff.

The government is asking schools, and all childcare providers, to provide care for children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

Government guidance outlines the key workers who must remain active to deliver this education provision in England, which includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and specialist education professionals.

Read the government guidance.

You should speak to your employer about working arrangements for this provision, and to your UNISON branch if you have any concerns.
The Department for Education has also published further information and guidance on how schools should support free school meal pupils.

Free School meals guidance

What is UNISON doing now?

We are seeking to work with national government, local government and education employers to draw up additional guidance. We have raised a range of issues with them including:

  • Closures and full pay – the need for reassurance around full pay for all staff including contractors (catering, cleaning etc), agency staff and sessional workers;
  • Health and safety – need for risk assessments, protective equipment, schools fully stocked with all necessary cleaning products and testing;
  • Postponement of redundancies/restructures/TUPE transfers/ disciplinary hearings etc during this period;
  • Joint working with unions and employers locally and nationally to help schools and pupils and staff through crisis with employers and unions recognising the need for flexibility. Asking for volunteers first when employers are seeking to re-deploy staff;
  • Plus many more.

Please note that the situation is likely to develop differently across the UK and that changes may be announced at different times. As things become clearer, we will update all relevant websites.

How can I get the latest news?

  • UK wide and England-specific updates will be placed on this page.
    UNISON Cymru/Wales will post updates on its website and Facebook page.
  • UNISON Scotland will post updates on its website
    and Facebook page.
  • UNISON Northern Ireland will post updates on its website

Currently our member helpline UNISONdirect is receiving lots of calls, some of which they cannot answer at this time.

For queries relating to local pay, terms and conditions issues, it is best to contact the Branch.

My rights at work.

We would like to assure you that across the UK – at workplace, branch, regional and national levels – UNISON is at the heart of the discussions and raising your issues and concerns directly with governments and employers.
UNISON is here for you.

See here for further updates from the National union.