Refusal to attend school on health and safety grounds

6 January 2021

Many schools will have been aware of the template letter being circulated by the Unions which staff could use to support a decision to stay away from school. With the National Education Union claiming that the letter has been downloaded over 5,000 times, many school leaders will have received one of these letters.

Although the immediate problem has been resolved following the announcement of school closures for the majority of pupils, it is possible that schools will see similar action being taken by their staff if the prevalence of the virus remains at a high level following the lockdown. Subjecting staff who refuse to attend work because they reasonably believe they are in 'serious and imminent danger' to a detriment, such as disciplinary proceedings or dismissal, poses a significant risk and we recommend that schools seek advice before taking any such action.

In order to reduce the risks of similar issues arising in relation to attending school to teach key worker or vulnerable children, we recommend that schools ensure they have reviewed and updated their risk assessments, considered any arrangements required for clinically vulnerable staff and imposed any further measures necessary to control the spread of the new, highly-transmissible strain of the virus.

For further information or advice, please contact Natasha Letchford or your usual Wilsons contact.

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