Paid Religious Leave

Teachers Employed By Ealing Schools Are Entitled To 3 days Paid Leave Per Year For Religious Festivals.
What About Support staff?


For decades teachers have had the right in Ealing to take paid religious leave. Being in a ‘Christian’ country, practising Christians do not need paid leave for their ‘Holy Days’ as the school holidays are based around the birth of their Messiah, Jesus, at Christmas and his Crucifixion and ascension into heaven from the dead at Easter. In fact the word holiday originates from the words Holy Day. (Orthodox Christians using the Georgian calendar celebrate Christmas around 7th January).

The right for teachers of other faiths such as Jews, Muslims Hindus & Sikhs not to be penalised nor discriminated against for their faith was won by the NUT/NEU, Indian Workers Association and Ealing Labour Party/Councillors. It came following the successful mobilisation of the community by the Anti Nazi League to stop fascists, then called the National Front, marching along South Street/Southall Broadway to the old Southall Town Hall in 1979.

Teachers today employed by Ealing Local Authority schools (Foundation, Community & Voluntary Aided Status) have the right to 3 days paid leave. This entitlement is part of their local agreed conditions. It is a right, it is not at your headteachers’ discretion. Neither should you be obligated to ‘pay this back by doing cover’. All Ealing schools that converted to Academy Status have also maintained or ‘signed up to’ this local agreement. (Ark Schools actually give 5 days paid religious leave). You can download this Ealing policy -> Ealing Managing Absence Guidance for schools. Please turn to page 22 third paragraph and especially page 26.

A few years ago many Ealing Headteachers tried to take this right away. This hard fought right has been lost in some of our neighbouring local authorities. Ealing NEU approached Ealing Council/Julian Bell (Leader of the Council) and urged for this right to be maintained. To their credit they rightly refused the approach from headteachers.

What About Support Staff?

Many decades ago there were significantly fewer support staff, only a few admin staff in schools. The NUT only represented qualified teachers, today the NEU campaigns, supports, advises and represents support staff. Sadly support staff were over looked at the time and do not have this right today. There are some Ealing headteachers who do give paid leave to support staff nonetheless.

That’s Unfair!
How Can We Stand Up For Our Support staff Members?

Recently NEU secondary school groups passed motions urging Ealing Council to extended this right to support staff. Disappointingly, Ealing UNISON responded by making an official compliant as the NEU does not have “negotiating rights” for support staff. Ealing UNISON are correct.

So What can We Do?

If your headteacher refuses to give paid religious leave to support staff, then we should call a school union meeting and declare an “official dispute”. This then allows Ealing NEU to officially speak to your Headteacher and try to persuade them to grant paid religious leave to their support staff. We don’t necessarily have to ballot for industrial action, we just have to agree as a school NEU group to say we are “in dispute” on this particular issue. After all that staff have done during this pandemic we would hope that all Ealing headteachers would say yes to their support staff as gesture of goodwill and appreciation. If they do not then please email Ealing NEU

Stopping The Fascists In 1979