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new on 12 March 2020
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The latest union advice and official Acas guidance all in one place.

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We know you're worried about COVID-19 and the impact it could have on your school community. We're here by your side - go to our coronavirus resource hub to help you prepare for the challenges that may come and keep school life running smoothly in the meantime. We're working tirelessly and will be adding new resources to the hub - so keep an eye out!

For what you should be doing now to help prevent the spread of the virus, read this article.

If they have coronavirus

Their usual sick leave and pay entitlements will apply 

For example, staff covered* by the Burgundy Book (teachers) or the Green Book (support staff) are entitled to full pay for absence due to infectious illness. This absence doesn’t count against sick leave entitlements.

*Staff in community and voluntary-controlled schools are covered, and staff in academies whose contracts transferred over at the point of conversion. Voluntary-aided and foundation schools often follow these books too, so check your policies and contracts to see if the same applies.

See the guidance from Acas and the National Education Union (NEU).

If they need to self-isolate 

They're entitled to statutory sick pay and may also be entitled to contractual sick pay depending on their conditions

Statutory sick pay currently kicks in from the 4th day off, but the government has announced that this will be available from day 1 when the COVID-19 bill goes through. We'll update this article when this happens. 

  • If they're covered by the Burgundy Book they're also entitled to contractual sick pay (paragraph 10.3)
  • If they're covered by the Green Book they're entitled to normal pay (paragraph 10.9)
  • For all others, it’s good practice for you to also provide any contractual sick pay they’d normally receive, as per Acas guidance

Find the Burgundy and Green Books here and read this article for information on when to self-isolate

If you ask them to self-isolate 

You should provide them with their usual full pay

All unions* advise this, which is the official Acas line.

Make sure you're consistent in your approach to avoid claims of less favourable treatment. 

*There's guidance on this from NEU, Voice and NASUWT, and we spoke directly to ASCL and the NAHT.

If you close your school

Pay your staff their usual full pay

This is the case unless it says in their contract or is agreed otherwise, as explained in the Acas guidance.

If they need time off to look after a dependant

They're entitled to time off but there's no statutory right to pay unless your policy says so

Follow your policy to determine pay at this point. It's likely it'll provide full pay for the first day but nothing after that. ASCL told us this.

Read more about time off for dependants.

If they refuse to come in

This could be an unauthorised absence and could result in disciplinary action or withholding of salary, but do consider their situation

We’ve all read the news and there’s understandably a lot of panic flying around. However, staff are contracted to come in unless they need to self-isolate or your school is closed, so:

  • Speak to them about why they don’t want to come in. Listen to their concerns and try to reassure them
  • Remind them that, unless directed to close by Public Health England, the school remains open
  • If none of this works, consider whether you'd let them take time off as holiday or unpaid leave

Consider whether they're particularly vulnerable and need to take precautionary measures

If, for example, they have an underlying health condition they might receive specific medical advice. If so, make any reasonable adjustments you can or offer flexible/home working if that's possible. If in doubt, seek HR advice.  

See the Acas guidance.

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