Education unions call for clarification on the use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for school supply staff

Education unions call for clarification on the use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for school supply staff


Unions including NASUWT, NEU and Unite have written to the Department for Education “to press for clarification on the operation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) during the current national lockdown”.

Thousands of supply teachers across the country are at risk of being “thrown to the wolves” due to the national lockdown and partial school closures, education unions are warning.

NASUWT says that, although supply teachers are eligible for the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, fewer of them are likely to receive furlough pay this time compared to the previous lockdown because a change in the rules means agencies now incur extra costs such as national insurance and employers’ pension contributions.

A NASUWT national spokesperson for supply teachers reportedly said: “The fact that supply agencies and umbrella companies now have to pay these costs has resulted in many agencies saying they simply cannot afford to furlough supply teachers, and, as a consequence, they are not furloughing many of our hard-working and dedicated supply teacher members.

“Figures from our latest NASUWT annual supply teacher survey showed that a significant number of agencies and umbrella companies did the right thing and placed supply teachers on furlough under the CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) prior to changes made in August 2020.

“The government needs to put together a financial package to ensure hard-working and dedicated supply teachers are not thrown to the wolves.”

NASUWT has joined forces with seven other unions that represent supply teachers – the NAHT, GMB, NEU, Unison, Unite, AEP and Prospect – to write a joint letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson calling on the government to:

  • send a direction and provide adequate funding to ensure that supply staff on a live assignment continue to be paid from the budget of the school, with those who had their assignments terminated early reinstated on the original terms;
  • assess whether the current employer contributions within the CJRS, covering National Insurance and pension contributions, are acting as a disincentive for agencies to furlough workers;
  • ensure that agencies do the right thing and place education workers without current employment on furlough to allow them to weather these particularly difficult times and ensure they are available to work in what will undoubtedly be challenging months ahead.

Read the letter in full at

Speaking about the union’s Covid-19 Campaign for Supply Teachers, NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach, said:

“The fact that a range of trade union organisations have come together on this issue shows the critical importance of ensuring that supply staff unable to access work are treated fairly and equitably and receive the fullest amount of financial support available from the Government at this critical time, either through stronger direction from the DfE and/or through the auspices of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“It cannot be right that hard-working and dedicated supply staff, who have been fundamental to ensuring that schools control to function during the ongoing pandemic, are being prohibited and excluded from financial assistance at such a critical time. These are the very people that schools will rely on going forwards, so they must be treated with dignity and respect.”



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