A number of local authorities across Scotland are failing in their duty of care to their teacher employees with regard to individual risk assessments, the EIS has warned today.
The EIS has written to all Directors of Education to highlight that individual risk assessments must be updated to take account of the rapidly evolving circumstances related to COVID-19.
A recent survey of teachers across Scotland, carried out by the EIS, indicated that 16% of teachers are in COVID-19 ‘at-risk’ categories, 4% of teachers were in a shielding category prior to the 1st of August, and 1% of teachers identify as Black and Minority Ethnic (BME).
These are the groups of teachers for whom updated individual risk assessments are an issue of particular concern, given the higher risk that COVID-19 poses to people within these categories.
Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "Local authorities have a clear duty of care to the teachers than they employ. It is simply unacceptable, and a breach of that duty of care, for local authorities to fail to keep individual risk assessments for teachers up-to-date to account for the changing risk factors associated with COVID-19."
Mr Flanagan added, "A failure to review risk assessments in light of significant change would mean that risk assessments would not be suitable or sufficient in terms of Health & Safety at work regulations and, additionally, would also be at odds with current advice from Public Health Scotland."
"Given the rising level of infections across the community, it is essential that local authorities update their individual risk assessments to ensure that the staff in our schools remain safe in their place of work."
The EIS has advised local authorities that, where they have failed in their duty of care, the EIS will move to initiate collective grievances against the authorities in question.
A copy of Mr Flanagan’s letter to local authority Directors of Education can be found here.