Teachers stranded by volcanic ash flight ban must not be penalised, unions warn

Teachers who fail to return to school after the Easter holiday because they are stranded abroad must not be penalised, unions have warned.

NASUWT teaching union warned that one local authority planned to dock pay from absent teachers, the BBC has reported.

Most schools had contingency plans in place to deal with this kind of emergency, but the union warned that employers would be vulnerable to a legal challenge for “unlawful deduction of salary” if they sought to penalise teachers.

The general secretary of NASUWT, Chris Keates, said that some school leaders may determine that staff shortages were so severe that schools would have to close.

She said: “Reports have already emerged that one authority in the West Midlands, Coventry, apparently has stated that teachers who fail to report to work will be docked pay and expected to reclaim it from their travel insurance.

She added: “This situation is affecting workers and workplaces nationally and internationally. To single out teachers is totally unreasonable and unnecessary.

“Employers should be warned that they are vulnerable to a legal challenge for unlawful deduction of salary if they seek to penalise teachers in this way.”

“Schools have contingency plans in place and headteachers are best placed to decide how to cover for absent staff effectively and support pupils forced to miss classes,” she said.

However, councillor John Blundell, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for children, learning and young people, denied knowing about any such policy at the authority and said he was not sure how many teachers could be affected yet.

The UK’s emergency committee Cobra has met to discuss the volcanic ash cloud fallout, as flight restrictions were extended to at least 01:00 on Tuesday.

Ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland began falling across the UK last week, grounding all flights in and out of the UK.

Comments are closed.