Workers at two schools in Sefton, Merseyside, face a bizarre battle for redundancy payments after the opening of a free school.
The Hawthornes free school replaced St George of England School and St Wilfrid’s High. The free school is on the site of St George of England School, has the same head teacher and teaches the same students.
Workers at the two schools expected a transfer to the free school under Tupe employment regulations. But they haven’t yet been taken on—now they’re in limbo.
Avis Gilmore, north west regional secretary for the NUT union, told Socialist Worker, “The local authority says it hasn’t made anyone redundant as they should have automatically transferred to the new school.
“So they don’t have to pay any redundancy money. But the free school says it’s nothing to do with them. People aren’t sure if they’re employed by anybody at the moment.”
On advice from the Department For Education, trustees at the free school say they don’t have to pay redundancy money because the school is “a completely new entity”.
They said if workers turned up for work on Monday of this week they’d be treated as trespassers and face security. Yet around 30 teachers defied this warning and protested at the school.
The NUT, Unison and NASUWT unions, along with headteachers’ group the ASCL, are considering legal action.
Avis said, “It’s difficult to claim benefits—they haven’t been made redundant. It’s not as though Bootle is overrun with jobs for them to pick up.”