Coronavirus (COVID-19) Key employment issues for schools

In addition to these specific FAQs we've also put together a general document applicable to all organisations:

Are we able to interview applicants online?

Interviews can still be conducted online. Pre-employment information should be provided electronically and should be verified similarly for DBS checks.

The Government has provided detailed guidance on recruitment processes during this period. We would advise complying with government guidance on social distancing and making use of video/telephone conferencing and ensure that interviews are conducted by the panel and applicant in private. Discussion can then be held separately by the panel and interview forms completed accordingly.

It is important that applicants are informed if there is a delay in the process when setting up these interviews as you would normally do.

Has anything changed regarding recruitment and checks?

Yes. To ensure that the necessary DBS checks can still be carried out, the DBS standard and enhanced ID checking guidance has changed for a temporary period.

The change will enable:

  • ID documents to be viewed over video link
  • scanned images to be used in advance of the DBS check being submitted
  • The applicant will be required to present the original versions of these documents when they first attend their employment or volunteering role. The change came into effect from 19 March 2020.
What can I ask staff to do while in school?

This will entirely depend on the contents of the contract of employment. For support staff in particular this is likely to encompass as wide a range of duties as the contract provides. For teachers who are subject to the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document, schools can ask teachers to carry out a wide range of duties, including (but not limited to), planning and teaching lessons to the classes they are assigned to teach, and assessing, monitoring, recording and reporting on the learning needs, progress and achievements of assigned pupils. It is worth noting that the NEU and NASUWT have both taken a different view on this and appear to be stating that teachers may reasonably be expected to organise and make available learning resources for children who would otherwise normally attend school, but they should not be expected to plan lessons to be delivered during the period of COVID-19 school closure nor undertake marking of work of children affected by COVID-19 school closure. Our current view is that this assertion has no legal or contractual basis. It is worth noting that other unions within the sector are not taking this approach.

Are employers liable for discrimination and harassment by employees?

Employers should be particularly alert to any discriminatory treatment of employees from regions of the world with a high incidence of the virus. Employers could be vicariously liable for discrimination or harassment and so should take reasonable steps to prevent this.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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