Action to tackle the exploitative and in some cases illegal working practices by supply agencies is urgently needed, a national conference organised by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK has heard.

Teachers attending the NASUWT’s national Supply Teachers’ Conference, held today in Birmingham, have called for national standards for supply agencies to be introduced to tackle the exploitation and unscrupulous practices that too many supply teachers are being subjected to.

A real-time electronic poll of members attending the Conference found that:

  • 55% said that national standards for supply agencies would most help to secure better employment conditions for supply teachers;

  • 83% said supply agencies do not fully disclose all fees and charges they make for their services;

  • 61% said supply agencies do not act to ensure their safety, health and wellbeing at work;

  • Nearly a quarter (24%) said their supply agency does not make them fully aware of how much they will be paid for each assignment and the same number said they were not paid promptly and accurately by their agency;

  • A third said their agency did not make them fully aware of the type of work they were expected to undertake;

  • 15% said that their supply agency prevents them from seeking work from other sources;

  • 65% said supply agencies do not respect and develop their professional skills;

  • Nearly a third (32%) said they would not recommend their main supply agency to other teachers.

Dr Patrick Roach, Deputy General Secretary of the NASUWT, who addressed the Conference, said:

“It is clear that too many supply teachers are having their employment rights, their dignity and their wellbeing undermined by the exploitative and unfair treatment they are being subjected to by some supply agencies, umbrella companies and by schools.

“Many supply teachers continue to report to the NASUWT that they are being asked to sign illegal contracts or to waive their statutory rights to equal treatment under the Agency Workers Regulations.

“The trade bodies that claim to represent employment agencies must address these unacceptable practices which are bringing the sector into disrepute.”

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“At a time of a crisis of teacher recruitment and retention, the Government must now take seriously the issues raised by supply teachers, who are the backbone of the schools system.

“It simply is scandalous that many supply teachers are being denied equal treatment at work.

“The Government has serially failed to act effectively to end these unacceptable and unscrupulous practices.

“The Prime Minister has pledged to create schools that work for every child, to achieve this we must also have schools that work for every teacher, including supply teachers.”

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