There’s little doubt that ELT workers across the UK and Ireland will be affected by the coronavirus.  In Ireland, the government has already ordered schools shut. In many schools, student numbers are down and classes are being closed.  Many of us will have to self-isolate or take time off work to look after loved ones.

The TEFL Workers Union demands that no language school worker suffer financial loss due to missing work because of the coronavirus. Nor should we be expected to use sick pay (if we’re lucky enough to have it) or tap into our annual leave entitlement.

We keep language schools running. In this crisis, our employers need to do the right thing: full pay for all staff affected by coronavirus.

To this end, we’re here to help any TEFL workers who want to raise the issue with their employer. Contact us at tefl [at] iww [dot] org [dot] uk for help and advice.

As well as this, we’ll be targeting particular employers and institutions within the language teaching industry as part of a week-long social media campaign and we want your help!

Each day, on our social media accounts we’ll be asking our supporters to send off a tweet or write a short email. When enough of us speak, we can make our voices heard.

Today, we want to begin by speaking to workers in language schools directly.  Raise the issue with your managers, do it collectively, and have plan. There’s some great advice here:

Below, we’ve written up a draft letter which can be adapted. Meet up with your workmates, get everyone to sign, and have a plan if management doesn’t respond or responds inadequately.  The TEFL Workers’ Union has got your back!

In Ireland, our brothers and sisters in the Unite ELT branch are working with over 30 schools to coordinate a coherent comprehensive response to the school shutdown and the potential personal finance and health threats to staff and students. Contact information available here:

Template letter to management:

This letter is being written by the staff of [school].­­­

We feel that members of staff who cannot attend work due to the coronavirus should not lose any pay. Individuals may have to self-isolate or take time off work to look after children. The school may close for a period or class numbers may drop.  In any of these circumstances, we expect all affected staff to continue getting their average weekly pay.  We should not be expected to use sick leave or holiday entitlement due to coronavirus-related absences.

We are requesting a paid full-staff meeting on [date]. This meeting will provide an opportunity to raise any issues and concerns. We have also chosen a number of staff representatives and after this meeting, we expect our staff representatives to have the opportunity to sit down with our managers to agree to coronavirus policy.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and engaging with us on this matter.