Brexit and Education
The significance of the successful Leave campaign is currently unknown, and is likely to be for some period of time, but the confirmation that the UK will be leaving the European Union (EU) has led to some uncertainty for employers. Though the future is unclear there are steps which schools should be taking now to avoid disruptions in the workplace that the exit could cause.
The potential for issues of harassment or bullying is high as teachers take part in discussing the news, which way they voted and the likely impact of the exit. Additionally, this issue is not likely to disappear as the specifics and consequences of the exit will occur over the next few teaching years. To avoid this, you can remind staff to avoid talking about political issues, reiterate that the staff room remains part of the workplace and take this opportunity to recirculate the anti-bullying policy if you have one in place. Race is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and you should remind staff not to treat others unfavourably because they are EU or UK workers to avoid any discrimination claims.
Many schools have used the right of freedom of movement to actively employ EU teachers, especially for subject areas such as modern languages or highly skilled positions. Teachers that have entered the UK pre-exit are likely to be in a different position to those who enter post-exit and schools that have EU teachers already in place should take steps to ensure their employment arrangement is formalised and documented. If the current EU teacher is unable to show that their employment commenced before the exit they may face the greater restrictions that are likely to be placed on EU workers after the exit. A possible restriction on EU teachers in the future could be to extend the current points-based/sponsorship system that currently applies to non-EU workers.
Schools should remain conscious of the possible amendments to laws that have been implemented in the UK by reason of being part of the EU. One area cited as likely to change is that of agency workers so this will impact on schools employing agency teaching staff.