School summer break

As you know, paying contractors is at the very heart of what we do. More than most, we have shone the light for umbrella payroll providers over the past few months ensuring that those eligible contractors were paid 80% of their full taxable earnings (based on furlough guidelines).

Following the release of the latest HMRC Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Direction there would appear to be a huge obstacle directly ahead of the education sector…. The summer holidays 2020.

In normal times, education supply staff would typically accrue their holiday throughout the year and release some, if not all over this 6 week period. Whilst this ‘holiday pot accrual’ is usually sufficient for a couple of weeks, there is frequently a break in payments until school resumes in September.

What’s potentially worse is understanding exactly when supply staff be required back in schools?

It is suggested and legally confirmed that this particular stage of employment would be classed as unpaid leave. Why?

  1. Schools wouldn’t normally engage with agencies during this session of closure and as such, the agencies are unlikely to provide supply staff with assignments.
  2. Freelance education professionals should have already received the equivalent salary of their (full-time/non-term-time) counter-parts apportioned pro-rata over a 39 week year.

So it is looking like ‘term-time’ workers will not receive any salary over the aforementioned ‘summer break’. This could be longer if the furlough scheme doesn’t allow for re-entry or as anticipated, the funding percentage is drastically reduced. Whilst we await further clarification on the latter two points, the regulations currently say:

“Where, during the period mentioned in paragraph 12, a period of unpaid sabbatical or other period of unpaid leave is enjoyed by an employee (“unpaid leave”)-

no CJRS claim may be made in respect of the period of unpaid leave,”

We are working extremely hard in the background for all of our education professionals. Our main aim is to keep paying wages wherever possible, where it’s both financially viable and within the regulations. To this end, we have discussed this internally and considered the legal, financial and commercial interpretations and we have now received a barrister’s opinion which we commissioned on this and a number of other points.

We have also spoken with:

  1. HMRC helpline on a number of occasions
  2. Our individual HMRC single point of contact
  3. NASUWT and other teaching unions

The next step is to make the industry trade bodies (REC, APSCo, FCSA etc.) aware so that they can lobby government to provide further guidance.

Help raise this issue

We would also ask that you put some pressure on your local MP’s (found here) and to air concerns with your respective union officials.

Should we receive any further guidance we’ll provide an update as soon as possible.