24 February, 2017
Q. A member of staff was seen by the police near School premises using a mobile phone whilst driving the school minibus. The member of staff was not spoken to by the police officer, however, the police officer called the office to report the incident.
A. This is a conduct issue which will need to be investigated in order to ascertain in accordance with the disciplinary policy as to whether disciplinary action is required. As using a mobile phone is not only extremely careless it is also breaking the law. Therefore one would expect, dependent on the circumstances, that disciplinary action would in most cases take the form of a finding of misconduct or potentially gross misconduct. However this is the decision of the disciplining officer to determine of the facts.
Q. Is there any extra protection afforded to NQTs in terms of dismissal?
A. NQTs are employees as qualified staff are. Therefore in terms of ability to dismiss this will depend first on length of service (i.e has the employee accrued less than 2 years continuous service) and secondly whether there are any Equality Act issues which may present the risk of a claim. Although, another consideration which will need to be borne in mind is whether there are any obligations to third parties, namely training providers and schemes such as TeachFirst or Schools Direct.
Q. During a trade union dispute, is it possible to 'lock-out' employees?
A. Whilst it is legally possible, the practical considerations of doing so suggest that locking out would not be a viable course of action for a school, as employees are required to be paid during such periods. Therefore, this would be a decision to be taken dependent on individual circumstances, having due regard to whether the employees acting in furtherance of a dispute are prepared to perform all their duties under their contract of employment. Locking out employees places a further burden on schools, in that Regulations prevent agency work covering in schools where industrial action exists.
If you require any further advice then please contact a member of the Education & HR team on 01772 2200022.