Industrial action: FAQs

Get answers to your questions about strike action. Find out about your rights and responsibilities, and how to respond to industrial action.

Last reviewed on 13 December 2023See updates
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 45513
Contents
  1. What's the current state of play? 
  2. How to respond to strike action
  3. What to do about cover and teaching arrangements
  4. Understand rights and pay for striking workers
  5. Practical considerations for strike days

These FAQs are based on:

See the sources section at the bottom of this page for the other guidance, advice and legislation that these FAQs draw from.

Please note, unions may have differing interpretations of your legal requirements than the DfE. We recommend you seek legal advice and consult with any union reps in your school as appropriate.

What's the current state of play? 

What's happening with minimum service levels in education? 

Who can go on strike?

Can staff in independent schools go on strike?

What's 'industrial action short of strike action?'

How to respond to strike action

Who do we need to tell about strikes?

Who can decide to close the school?

Do staff have to tell our school if they're going on strike?

How much notice of a strike will we get?

Who do we need to notify about closing the school?

Do we need an industrial action policy?

Do we need a risk assessment to keep the school open during strikes?

Which pupils should we prioritise to be in school?

What are the minimum staffing ratio requirements to stay open?

What happens if our headteacher is striking?

What if strikes affect exams?

What to do about cover and teaching arrangements

Do we need to deliver the curriculum on strike days?

Can we ask other staff to cover lessons?

Can we employ temporary staff to cover strikes?

Can we combine classes?

Can we use volunteers to supervise pupils?

Can we ask striking teachers to set work in advance?

Understand rights and pay for striking workers

Can we ask striking teachers to make up lesson time?

Do we have to rearrange missed PPA time?

Do striking workers get pay?

How do we deduct pay?

Does striking impact continuous service or the length of service?

Practical considerations for strike days

How should we handle school lunches?

Can we be inspected by Ofsted during a strike?

What if staff are sick on strike days?

Can we rearrange school events and parents' evenings?

How do we record pupil attendance?

Is picketing allowed?

What does this mean for insurance?

Sources

The information in this article is based on:

Article Updates

13 December 2023

We've updated the current state of play section, with information about the DfE's consultation on minimum service levels.

7 September 2023

We've updated the current state of play with the latest on industrial action short of strike action.

11 August 2023

We've updated the following questions: 

Question Change
What's the current state of play? Updated this section with information about unions accepting the government's pay deal and calling off strike action for the autumn term
What are the minimum staffing ratio requirements to stay open? Changed the required ratio for 2-year-olds from 1:4 to 1:5 in line with updates to the EYFS statutory framework
Can we employ temporary staff to cover strikes? Updated this section to state that you can't employ agency staff to cover strikes, following a law change and update to the DfE's strike guidance
22 June 2023

We've updated the current state of play to include the July strike dates announced by the NEU.

18 April 2023

We've updated this article to reflect changes to the DfE's guidance on Handling strike action in schools. We've updated the following questions:

  • Will strikes affect exams?
  • Which pupils should we prioritise in school?
  • How do we deduct pay?
  • How should we handle school lunches?
  • Is picketing allowed?
  • What does this mean for insurance?

Your requirements haven't changed.

3 April 2023

We've updated the current state of play in light of the result of the NEU ballot this morning. We've also added a new FAQ on strikes and exams. 

9 March 2023

We've updated this article to include Ofsted's scheduling of notifications and inspections during strike action.

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