Workers' rights breached as school became an academy
TWENTY-EIGHT teachers have been awarded six weeks' pay as compensation for Cornwall Council's failure to provide them with information required by law when their school became an academy.
After Pool Business and Enterprise College became Pool Academy Trust on April 1, 2011, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) submitted an employment tribunal claim in respect of the council's failure to inform and consult under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (Tupe), and sought compensation for affected members.
The panel agreed the council failed to give the union the requisite information regarding the transfer's legal, social and economic implications, including the effect on teachers' continuity of service, the fact that statutory protection of terms and conditions of employment would be removed and that terms and conditions of transferring teachers would no longer be, or would be only partly, determined by national or collective agreement.
The tribunal awarded six weeks' gross pay to each affected NUT member.
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The council appealed and the matter was heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal which confirmed the decision.
The NUT noted the council had improved the advice it gave to the union when a school was to become an academy.
NUT regional secretary Andy Woolley said: "This is an important decision which sets a precedent which can be used in other cases and is a warning to all employers of teachers, whether they be local authorities, voluntary aided or foundation schools, that they must consult properly prior to a school becoming an academy.
"It's essential that teachers are told how the change to academy status will affect their terms and conditions, as there are a number of detrimental impacts.
"The NUT will be vigilant in protecting its members' interests in such cases and this will start by ensuring that proper consultation takes place in all schools [which] would otherwise face similar penalties as Cornwall did on this occasion.
"As the only teachers' union with its own in-house solicitors we are able to act firmly and swiftly in legal matters of this nature."
A spokesman for Cornwall Council said: "The council is disappointed with the decision by the Employment [Appeal] Tribunal.
"However, we have now reviewed and revised our processes."