Many teachers across thousands of schools in England have been going on strike to raise their thoughts over disputes relating to pay. Teacher strikes can have a significant impact on both employees and employers so we’ve put together a simple guide explaining your rights.
Here are some ways that teacher strikes can affect employers and employees:
- Disruption of work: Teacher strikes can disrupt the normal functioning of schools, which can in turn impact employees. For example, if teachers go on strike, students may not attend school, which could affect parents’ ability to work.
- Financial losses: If schools are closed due to a teacher strike, it can result in financial losses for employers. This is because parents may have to take time off work to care for their children, thereby affecting productivity at a crucial time.
- Difficulty finding substitute teachers: During a teacher strike, it can be difficult to find substitute teachers to fill in for the striking teachers. This can make it challenging for schools to continue operating and can also be a burden on employees (and thereby employers) who may have to scramble to find alternative solutions.
Taking time off
If your child’s school is closed, or your normal childcare arrangements are disrupted due to an emergency, you have a statutory right as an employee to take unpaid time off to look after your child.
There are no time limits on how much time you can take off, but it should be a “reasonable” amount and employers should try to be flexible.
If an employer refuses your request, it must justify the reasons why.
Whether you get paid to take time off work is down to your employer
You should check if your employer has a specific policy in your contract that allows paid leave for emergencies. Most strike action is announced in advance and your employer may therefore expect you to have other arrangements already in place.
Other options to consider include asking to take the time off under your paid annual holiday allowance. Alternatively, ask your employer if there are other arrangements it can put in place, such as enabling you to work from home or swap shifts.
Communicate with your employer
If you are planning on requesting unpaid or paid leave due to a childcare emergency, you should let your employer know as soon as possible. Set out why you haven’t been able to make alternative childcare arrangements and what arrangements could be made to mitigate your time off work.
Overall, teacher strikes can have a range of effects on employers, and it is important for employers to be prepared for these potential impacts and to have strategies in place for managing them. For more information please contact Head of employment on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01753 486777.