The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union secured compensation of £14,933,905.34 for members during 2018.
The compensation was awarded for successful claims including unfair dismissal, unlawful discrimination, personal injuries and criminal assault.
The NASUWT experienced a significant increase last year in cases relating to unlawful discrimination by employers towards members. These included cases where members had been subjected to discriminatory practices related to pregnancy-related and flexible-working requests, the failure to make reasonable adjustments for members with a disability, race discrimination and discrimination based on age, sexual orientation and religion or belief.
The NASUWT secured £10,000 for a 33 year-old member from South Yorkshire who was subjected to verbal racial abuse on more than a dozen occasions over the course of 18 months by students at her school. Her employer failed to take appropriate action to address the students’ behaviour, failing to respond in some instances when the member reported the abuse and dealing with other incidents inconsistently. The member ultimately left the school due to the poor response from her employer.
The NASUWT lodged claims for racial discrimination and for constructive dismissal. The employer was unable to produce significant documentation demonstrating their robust handling of the racism and after successful negotiations the settlement was agreed.
A settlement of £45,000 was agreed for a 54 year-old disabled member from the East Midlands who was dismissed by his employer after querying the failure to put in place reasonable adjustments to enable him to do his job.
He had multiple disabilities, including a form of arthritis, hypertension, gout and diabetes, which the employer was aware of. He sought the Union’s assistance after failing to receive a satisfactory response from his employer to requests for reasonable adjustments. He had requested a trolley to aid his mobility, for disabled parking bays to be kept free for those with disabilities, the removal of classroom equipment which was in his way and for an interactive whiteboard, large wireless keyboard and stool to be provided for his classroom.
The employer then began a disciplinary investigation into his alleged conduct. The member understood this investigation to be motivated by the employer’s unhappiness with the repeated queries about reasonable adjustments. He was dismissed via the school’s disciplinary procedure.
The NASUWT brought claims to an Employment Tribunal for direct and indirect discrimination, failure to make reasonable adjustments, unfair dismissal and detriment due to making a protected disclosure.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“Whilst the NASUWT has been successful in securing record compensation for members, the fact is that behind these figures is a catalogue of appalling treatment teachers have suffered at the hands of their employer.
“In most cases the money awarded does not compensate for the fact that a teacher’s physical or mental health may have been affected and they can no longer work in their chosen profession.
“Too many employers adopt an ‘anything goes’ style of management and believe they can act with impunity as the Government fails to take any action to secure compliance with employment law, allowing poor employment practices to flourish as a result of the excessive freedoms and flexibilities it has given to schools.
“These figures mask the anxiety, stress and distress many teachers will have suffered at the hands of their employers before seeking our help.
“But they also represent what we believe is only the tip of the iceberg. There is no doubt that many more will have been driven out of the profession without proper redress for poor, discriminatory or unfair treatment because they were too fearful or stressed to come forward or believed nothing could be done.
“By publicising these figures the NASUWT hopes that they will encourage any teacher facing discrimination or unfair treatment to seek our help.”
NASUWT Press Office contacts:
Ben Padley 07785 463 119
Lena Davies 07867 392 746
Sarah Cull 07920 711 069
Notes to editors
The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at the ICC in Belfast from 19-21 April.
The global compensation figure covers the period 1 January to 31 December 2018.
Further examples of compensation awards included the following:
The NASUWT secured the correct rate of pay for a 53 year-old supply teacher member from County Antrim who took up a supply role with a grammar school. She completed her deployment there and found that the school had paid her below the pay point that she was due.
The NASUWT contacted the school who claimed that they could set supply pay rates as they chose. The Union refuted this suggestion and contacted the Department of Education in Northern Ireland. The department confirmed, in an email, that the NASUWT was correct. The employer admitted that they owed the member but stated that they required her to enter into a confidentiality agreement before they would pay.
The Union advised the member to refuse this requirement on the basis that she was owed the money regardless of any further agreement and a claim for unlawful deduction was lodged. A request for a default judgment was made on the basis that the outcome of a hearing was a foregone conclusion as the employer admitted that the money was owed. The default judgment was granted and the member received her correct rate of pay and was not required to enter into a confidentiality agreement.
Employment-related criminal assault
The NASUWT secured £9,611 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for a 57 year-old member from the West Midlands member who was assaulted by a pupil who was known to demonstrate aggressive behaviour. The pupil blocked the entrance to her classroom and subsequently shoved the member into a wall that causing a lower back injury and bruising to her ribs. The incident left her with a PTSD diagnosis, vertigo and tremors.