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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wakelin

How Does Teachers Striking Effect Employers

Updated: May 25, 2023

With teachers in Scotland already taking industrial action and those in England and Wales planning a series of on and off strikes throughout February and March, how will this effect employees and employers.

Planned National Teachers Strikes February to March 2023

When will teachers be on strike?

In Scotland, most primary and secondary schools are current closed due to national and local strikes. Industrial action commenced on 16 January 2023 and will last for sixteen days.

In Wales, industrial action is currently planned for all schools on 1 February, 14 February, 15 March and 16 March 2023.

In England, industrial action is currently planned for all schools on 1 February, 15 March and 16 March 2023, with additional days planned in the following areas:

  • North and North-West England, Yorkshire and Humber on 28 February 2023

  • East Midlands, West Midlands and the NEU's Eastern Region on 1 March 2023

  • South-East and South-West England and London on 2 March 2023

What rights do employees have to take time off work?

Although Government guidance states that schools should stay open, where possible, it is likely that some schools will need to close.

Employees have some statutory employment rights they can utilise when they need to take time off to look after children who are not at school.

Ordinary parental leave can be used to cover childcare, however, employees must have at least one year's service. Employees can take up to a total of eighteen weeks for each child, which is to be taken by the child's 18th birthday. Leave is unpaid and must be taken in blocks of one week or more, unless the child is disabled. However, parents must provide 21 days' notice, and employers also have the right to postpone the date of ordinary parental leave requested.

Alternatively, an employee may take time off for dependants. This is available for employees to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off for, among other reasons, children who live in the same household or to make arrangements for the care of their children under certain circumstances. Generally, time off for dependants is for unexpected emergencies, such as the sudden termination of childcare arrangements. This would normally mean short notice disruption, such as unplanned strikes, but can also arguable be required for those employees who genuinely cannot find alternative care for their children during planned strikes.

Do employers have to give employees the day off?

Although there are no legal employment rights for an employee to take a day off work to look after a child, during teachers industrial action, employers may wish to support their employees and discuss and agree with them how they can support them through this difficult situation, such as agreeing to the employee taking annual leave, authorised unpaid leave, working from home, adjusting hours of work or swapping working days.

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