We hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.
GMB London last week shared with you our serious concerns about daily testing being offered as an alternative to the self-isolation period for school staff and pupils. We are pleased to be able to report that, on 20th January 2021, Public Health England issued updated guidance stating daily testing will now be paused and this means that the 10 day period of self-isolation for close contacts is reinstated. This is welcome news as GMB London was most concerned at the risk being posed to members by the use of daily testing for close contacts.
GMB is campaigning for school support staff to be included in the occupational prioritisation for vaccinations, which currently only mentions teachers. It is more evident than ever that schools cannot function without support staff and GMB London is continuing to raise the lack of recognition for the invaluable work carried out by support staff, as well as challenging the inequality and unfairness experienced by our members in schools.
As the end of the tax year approaches, we wanted to remind you that if you are working from home (even if it’s only one day a week) because of the pandemic, you are entitled to claim £6 per week from your Employer to cover increased costs such as heating, electricity, and Wi-Fi. If you have not done so already, we have prepared a letter you may wish to send to your Head Teacher, asking for this payment to be paid and backdated where applicable. If your employer is not willing to pay this then you can ask HMRC for tax relief on this amount (which equates to £1.20 per week for 20% taxpayers and can be backdated) by following this link Claim tax relief for your job expenses: Working from home – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
On Tuesday 26th January at 5pm, GMB London is holding an online meeting for all schools based members. If you have not already registered for this, there is still time. This ‘Questions & Answers’ meeting will also look at how health and safety issues surrounding COVID-19 can be addressed in schools. If you wish to attend please use the link below to register
For those of you who are currently required to attend school, ventilation is a key factor in keeping you safe at work and here is a guide to ensuring good ventilation. Also, we are now receiving replies to our letters sent to Directors of Education, about what is being expected from support staff, and it is clear that being required to attend school to carry out duties not directly related to the provision of education for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, for example, to clean and tidy displays and cupboards, is not acceptable and should not be happening.
We hope you have been able to complete our survey- if you haven’t the closing date is 22nd January and we would like to hear from you about your experience and your school. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Schools_B1117_Jan01. The results of the survey will be shared next week.
If you have any colleagues who are not in a Trade Union, they can join GMB online at www.gmb.org.uk/join-online. The more members we have in a workplace, the stronger we are and together we can make a difference. We hope to see you on Tuesday and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe and take care,
With kind regards
Lisa Bangs, GMB London Region Organiser — Schools and Academies
Keith Williams, GMB London Region Senior Organiser
Follow us on Twitter: @schoolsgmblon
Posted: 25th January 2021