Strikes: what are my rights as a supply teacher?


Striking can be a controversial subject with unsubstantiated myths about what supply teachers are allowed/aren’t allowed to do. So, teacher strikes: what are my rights as a supply teacher?

We are hoping to bring some clarity to the situation.

Edapt are an apolitical and independent organisation (not a teaching union) who offer edu-legal support and professional casework services in individual employment disputes and allegations, similar to some of the services offered by a traditional trade union.

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We previously published detailed, objective archived guidance for all school staff relating to the strike action by the NEU during 2023 which you may find useful to look at.

In this support article, we look at the specific issues facing supply teachers when deciding to take part in strike action.

Can supply teachers strike?

The Department for Education (DfE) has published guidance on Handling Strike Action in Schools in August 2023.

It explains that supply teachers who are employed by agencies and not directly by schools will not be able to officially join the strike.

The DfE explains that following the repeal of Regulation 7 in July 2022, it is now possible for employers to engage with agency staff to replace the work of those taking official strike action. So supply teachers can be asked to cover for teachers who are taking part in strike action.

If supply teachers are employed directly by the school or the Local Authority, (check your employment contract) and are members of a balloted striking union, they can make the personal decision on whether they would like to take part in strike action.

If you are a supply teacher and not a member of a union, you are entitled to join the industrial action despite not being a member of the balloted union. All those joining the action on this basis will be afforded the same protections under current legislation.

Do school staff get paid if they decide to strike? 

Employees are not entitled to be paid during any period in which they are on strike. 

School staff employed under ‘The Burgundy Book’  – should have their pay deduction calculated on the basis of 1/365th of their annual salary for each day of strike action.

For illustrative guidance, a teacher earning around £30,000 would be deducted around £85 for each day of strike action. (please check your own circumstances for accurate figures). This will vary depending on the annual salary of the teacher.

It is the gross salary amount that is used for calculations which will include TLR payments.

Deductions will likely be made on the next payroll i.e. deductions for February strike days from February payroll. Any payments made in error can be clawed back by the employer; sometimes this happens months later after mistakes are spotted.

It will be worth bearing in mind that supply teachers have a daily rate based on 195 days of work, they will lose 1/195th of their pay if they decide to strike. So they will be worse off compared to full-time contracted members of staff for a day of strike action.

Supply teachers and strike action

If you are a supply teacher, and an Edapt subscriber, you can contact us for further advice and support.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.