NUT Negotiates With LEA On New Flexibilities and Banking Cover
As you will know, the shortage of teachers is becoming more acute, though the government still seems incapable of seeing the scale of the problem or finding realistic solutions. During the holidays members should have received an individual mailing from NUT national headquarters on teachers shortages, cover for absent colleagues and 'new flexibilities'to improve conditions of service and so help recruitment and retention. The NUT locally will be negotiating with the LEA to ensure that our conditions of service in covering for absent colleagues are maintained or improved.
The six teacher unions have negotiated with the employers association (NEOST) and produced guidelines which are expected to be followed in all LEAs. These guidelines recognise that existing local agreements which protect conditions of service must be retained. They also recognise that improvements gained through the Cover to Contract action (improvements in levels of supply cover available) should not be lost.
Staff should not therefore be doing any more cover now than during the cover to contract action.
This means staff should not be asked to:
• cover for unfilled vacancies
• cover sickness absence beyond the third day in secondary schools
• cover sickness absence in primary and special schools except in an emergency on the first day, or teach extra children from a split classes
• cover for absences known in advance (e.g. INSET etc.)
Where staff are asked, in exceptional circumstances, to cover beyond these limits, then that cover is above normal workload and should only happen where an agreement has been reached about how time off in lieu will be arranged. This is where the 'new flexibilities' on 'banking cover' apply.
This is what is expected to be happening in schools and is in line with the guidance negotiated between the six teacher unions and the employers.
Members are reminded:
• All qualified teaching staff, including members of senior management, are expected to do their share of cover for absent colleagues
• No one wants to see schools closing, but this is an option envisaged in the Joint Union/NEOST guidance
• Members should only cover in any circumstances for qualified teachers; members should not be asked to cover for unqualified staff
• Where a class is split, all those staff receiving additional pupils will be entitled to time off for the whole of the time they provided cover (Para. 34 NEOST/Joint Union Guidance)
Most importantly, if staff are being asked to cover beyond normal contractual limits or are considering arrangements for banking cover please contact the NUT office (2539310) immediately.
Should it not be possible to reach agreement on implementing the NEOST/Joint Union guidance, the NUT would consider resumption of the cover to contract action.
Your School's NUT Rep. has copies of the latest NUT guidelines on Class Size and Workload action. Remember:
• only one management convened meeting per week, 1265 hours is the maximum number of hours of directed time
• no more than 30 children in a class
Phone the NUT office (2539310)for more information.