Vulnerable Workers Checklist

Here is a link to the commentary and guidance for vulnerable workers

Download the guidance: Vulnerable workers guidance

Contacting your employer: a model letter

Use the template letter below to write to your employer if you need to.

Dear [add name]

I am writing regarding your planning for possible wider opening of the school, your risk assessment regarding staffing matters in particular, and my own position.

I would like to draw your attention to the following matters, which I would like you to consider when you are looking at staff availability and my role following any wider reopening:

  • insert information regarding your personal position as discussed above

I would like you to agree that, given these circumstances, I will be able to continue to work from home and confirm to me that that will be the case.

If you propose to require me to return to the workplace, I would be grateful if you let me know the reasons (including a copy of the risk assessment and where appropriate the equality impact assessment relating to my position) for that request.

With best wishes.

[Your name]






Coronavirus Planning Checklists

Here are links to Joint NEU, Unison, Unite & GMB planning checklists for members to use to ensure that workplaces are safe to open for staff and students.

Primary Checklist

Read the joint commentary here

Download the PDF here: Primary Coronavirus workplace checklist

Secondary Checklist

Read the joint commentary here

Download the PDF here: Secondary Workplace coronavirus checklist

Special Schools & Alternative Provision

Read the joint commentary here

Download the PDF here: Special Schools Workplace checklist

Coronavirus Crisis Primary Workplace Checklist

Coronavrius Workplace Checklist

The NEU has worked together with other education unions (Unite, GMB and Unison) to produce this Joint Union checklist for use in discussions with your head about what schools need to do in order to begin reopening safely for wider groups of children:

Coronavirus Workplace checklist

We will be sending this to the Local Authority and headteachers.

Reopening of schools

June 1st is an arbitrary date set by the government and the NEU believes that schools should not rushing to meet this deadline. LBTH have written to heads to say:

“we are not expecting schools to be open for all children in years 6, 1 and Reception from the 1st of June. We are committed to working with you and the school workforce unions to find a realistic and safe phased approach to reopening over a period of time. The position is very fast moving and there are likely to be further development by the time we meet next week.”

We are meeting with the Local Authority and other unions tomorrow morning to discuss the checklist and plans for local schools, and will hold a meeting for NEU Reps in primary schools at 4pm to report back and continue our discussions with you.

Details of the meeting are here. Please click on the link to register.


4pm TUESDAY 19th MAY

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 614 115 7814

We will hold a separate meeting for secondary Reps later in the week.

Kevin Courtney on Good Morning Britain

Here is a link to a video from our joint General Secretary, Kevin Courtney, following his appearance on Good Morning Britain this morning.

18th May 2020

Coronavirus update & members zoom meeting

First of all I would like to encourage you to register for our online members meeting on Friday at 4pm – with over 300 registrations already it is going to be our biggest meeting ever.


The government plans to begin reopening primary schools on June 1st have been sharply criticised by all education unions, including the NAHT who represent the majority of primary headteachers.

A joint union statement was issued yesterday which called on the government to, “step back from the 1st June and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out” – read the statement here.

NEU negotiations with Tower Hamlets Head Teachers
Yesterday we wrote to Tower Hamlets headteachers outlining the NEU position that no detailed planning should take place on the basis of reopening on June 1st and this has been well received – read the letter here.

We think it is best to refrain from detailed discussions at this stage.

However, where discussions are taking place, our advice is that it should be on the understanding that schools are not committed to reopening on June 1st as it is not safe and that we will issue further advice nearer the time.

A lot will happen over the next few days and the NEU will be updating our advice and guidance in response to the changing situation.

At all times we will have the safety and well being of staff, children, and their families, at the centre of our thinking.

Over 5,000 teachers and support staff have joined the NEU since Sunday, which is a clear sign that school staff support the approach we are taking.

Please do discuss the situation with colleagues in your school and look out for further updates – and do join our mass meeting on Friday at 4pm.

‘Not safe to reopen schools,’ warn teacher unions

heads say June 1st reopening unfeasible

DfE scientific adviser says he has not assessed the guidance on reopening schools

Guide to running a zoom meeting

We are asking workplace reps to organise zoom meetings with members to discuss the likely decision to try and open schools and colleges.

Here is a guide to how zoom works and how you can use it to effectively run a meeting for your members.

User Guide for Zoom

5th April 2020

Health and safety reps – a brief guide

In every workplace union members can agree to appoint a SAFETY REPRESENTATIVE, this is a legal right and only union members decide if they want a safety rep and who it is.

Safety reps have legal rights. These are enshrined in the 1977 Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations and accompanying notes which all have the force of law. These regulations are often referred to as the “Brown Book”.

Once a safety rep is chosen by union members the headteacher, chair of governors and employer must be informed of the name of the safety rep in writing.

So too should the

  • NEU district secretary Alex Kenny –
  • NEU District health and safety advisor – Paul McGarr –

NEU guidance is that these can then inform the school and employer of who the safety rep is.

Safety reps have basic legal rights. The key ones include:

  • to carry out regular safety inspections of the workplaces. The NEU advises that in schools termly is good practice
  • time off to carry out such inspections (NEU guidance is half a day in small schools and full day in larger schools)
  • to be provided with all written documents and policies relating to health and safety
  • to be provided with copies for review of all risk assessments relating to workplaces related activities of all kinds (Risk assessments are management’s responsibility not the safety reps’)
  • the employer/school has a legal obligation to inform and consult safety reps “in good time” on changes and matters in the workplace which may affect the health and safety of members who the safety rep represents
  • each union can choose its own safety rep, but a safety rep for one union can represent staff in other unions by agreement as long as they have the same employer.
  • safety reps are entitled by law to paid time off for training – and the NEU provides excellent training course. Please discuss with the district secretary and/or the district health and safety advisor (see above) if you wish to undertake such training.

Safety inspections place no legal liability or obligation on safety reps. The role of the safety rep is to highlight and report possible issues. The responsibility for dealing with any issues raised rests with the employer not the safety rep.

The NEU produces a wealth of excellent material for safety reps, with detailed guidance on everything from carrying out safety inspections, legal rights and advice on a whole host of issues.

All of this is available on:

It includes detailed guidance on the role of a safety rep:

And lots of helpful videos and pro-formas at:

There is also an NEU health and safety reps email group and mailing list, which safety reps can join if they wish to.


The situation around Covid 19 is clearly a health and safety issue.

Safety reps should be provided with the risk assessment covering existing arrangements in schools during the lockdown where schools are operating childcare for essential worker or vulnerable children- which should include protocols on ensuring safety.

This is a legal obligation on the school and employer.

Issues concerning these risk assessments, or difficulties obtaining them, should be raised with and reported to the district NEU secretary and the district NEU health and safety advisor (see above).

If there is any proposed wider opening of schools this is a significant change which means there is a legal requirement on schools to consult safety Reps “in good time” and ensure a risk assessment has been carried out and shared with safety reps who can then raise concerns.

Under Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act all employees have a legal right to refuse to be in a workplace if they believe it to be unsafe and to pose a threat to the health and safety of themselves or others.

Please contact the district secretary or district health and safety advisor if you wish to discuss any of this further or need assistance or advice.

Download a PDF version of this blog here: H&S Reps guide

5th April 2020

Coronavirus Update: 27th April 2020

The purpose of this briefing is to remind members of key points of NEU advice, following the government’s decision to ask schools to remain closed until further notice.

Government advice continues to be that, anyone who can work at home should do so, and anyone who can keep their child at home should do so – NHS workers are asking people to stay at home if at all possible. Members should avoid using public transport if at all possible.


There are three groups of staff, who should definitely be working from home:

  • those who have developed a consistent cough or fever
  • those who are in one of the vulnerable groups identified by the government
  • those who live with, or care for someone, in one of the vulnerable groups

The only children in school should be children of key workers, or other vulnerable children, who really can’t find an alternative. Government advice is that occupancy should be no more than 10%. Schools should do everything they can to adhere to government guidelines on social distancing.


Staffing should be kept at the minimum required to provide childcare for the number of children in school. This means asking staff to volunteer to be on a rota. The NEU is encouraging members to work on a rota in schools unless they are in one of the government’s vulnerable groups, or caring for someone in one of those groups.


A summary of some key points from the NEU advice:

  • Workload for home working should be reasonable and allow for individual circumstances of staff
  • Schools should acknowledge that not all children will have the same access to computers and the internet
  • Schools should not attempt to recreate the school timetable or curriculum
  • The focus should be on flexible activities and stimulus that are fun, exciting and do not necessarily need access to the internet
  • Schools should try to avoid covering new content for GCSE and A Level courses
  • The NEU advises against live-streaming lessons for safety reasons – pre-recorded videos are a preferred option but this should be a voluntary activity with no compulsion on teachers to do this.
  • Teachers should not be expected to routinely grade or mark students’ work
  • Staff should not be expected to produce a daily log of work done

With schools remaining closed to the vast majority of children, many will be feeling a sense of dislocation and may be missing seeing familiar friends and faces. The NEU believes that there is real value in teachers making “welfare’” calls to speak to children and check how they are getting on. Where schools are considering making calls to families, it should be discussed with staff and their union Reps and a protocol agreed.

See our separate briefing on making home calls:

    We expect heads to continue to consult with NEU Reps and staff about all matters arising from this crisis. This is supported by the NAHT advice to headteachers, “It will be impossible to build the team response you will need if you rely on compulsion. That will lead to resentment and people will simply stay away using “isolation” to legitimise their absence. This effort cannot be about compulsion. Success will be borne out of mutual respect, understanding and support.”

We will issue further updates but please do check the NEU website and contact us if you have any concerns about any aspect of this situation.

Download a copy of this: Coronavirus_briefing_No.5

27th April 2020