TEFL Workers’ Union five key criteria to safely reopen schools


The TEFL Workers’ Union takes the safety of our members, their colleagues, and their students as our highest priority.


We will stand behind all language school staff to ensure individual schools and the industry as a whole only reopen schools when it’s unquestionably safe to do so.


If your school has not announced their intention to do everything listed below, you and your workmates should write a collective letter requesting that they do so.  If your school does not respond affirmatively, please contact the union at tefl [at] iww [dot] org [dot] uk.  We will provide advice and legal guidance. Most importantly, the union will work with you and your workmates to campaign around these issues in your workplace.


By standing united and standing strong we’ll make sure that all schools put our health and safety first.



  1. Schools must make consultation a priority. 


Any changes brought in due to coronavirus, including:


  • Reopening
  • the provision of PPE
  • altering the physical layout of schools
  • adapting teaching practices
  • changes to contractual terms


-must be done in genuine, ongoing, and good faith consultation with staff.


Collective consultation is a necessary tool to ensure staff concerns can be raised and resolved in an open and transparent manner. For advice and support, staff should always be given the opportunity for union accompaniment in any consultation meetings, especially those related to matters of health and safety.


  1. Room-by-room risk assessments


Thorough risk assessments must be taken to ensure adequate social distancing and the results of those assessments must be shared with staff.


Schools must err on the side of caution when determining the appropriate number of students to avoid the spread of COVID-19.  Staffing numbers must reflect the new reality of smaller class sizes.


  1. No one who is shielding or vulnerable should be obligated to return to work if they do not feel safe


Schools should make arrangements to allow those at risk to work from home.  If this cannot be accommodated, it’s imperative that schools ensure continued income for those staff.


  1. Paid sick leave for staff


Schools must make available the necessary funds to ensure all staff can confidently take all measures to protect themselves and their loved ones from potential exposure to the virus.


We call on all language schools to offer full, contractual sick pay from the first day of potential illness. Statutory sick pay is inadequate and schools which fail to offer full sick pay run the risk that staff may have to choose between paying the bills and coming to work when ill.


  1. A commitment to avoid redundancies


Language school staff are the backbone of the industry. It is the expectation of the union that individual schools and the industry as a whole take all possible measures to protect the livelihoods of its workforce.