UNISON Northern Ireland

Is Your School Safe?

The school term is starting and many of you will be already back to the workplace. 

Throughout the last 6 months, UNISON has been raising concerns on your behalf with the Education Minister, the Education Authority and with individual schools to try and ensure that your return to work is safe. This has been challenging and the concerns of our members have not always been listened to or acted upon quickly enough. However, you should know that without UNISON raising issues on your behalf many measures we have insisted upon to keep both you and the children and young people safe would not be in place across services like transport, catering and cleaning.  

We can only make representations on your behalf when we have a strong team of local school reps and Health and Safety reps looking out for their colleagues. If you’re passionate about representing your colleagues in the workplace now is the time to step forward and become a rep.   

It is important that you know and are familiar with the day to day running of the New School Day. UNISON has insisted that measures to protect children and young people and you and your colleagues start from the minute the pupil leaves home to travel to school.    

  • You should be familiar with what to do if you feel you are at risk due to lack of Health and safety measures NOT being put in place or if the measures are not being adhered to.  
  • You should have access to any risk assessments that have been drawn up by the Education Authority or directly by the school.  You have a right to request it, especially if your occupation is included.   
  • You should be familiar with what PPE is required to do your job,  where to access it, dispose of it and importantly how to take it on and off.   
  • You should be familiar with what to do if anyone reports to you that they are feeling unwell or if you believe someone is symptomatic whether it is on school transport or in the school environment   
  • You should be familiar with the Return to Work  process and if for any reason you are not able to attend work what your rights are.   

​If you are not sure what you need to do to keep yourself safe, or are concerned that your employer is not doing what they are required to do, you should contact your local branch reps www.unison-ni.org.uk/branches. ​​You can also access a variety of UNISON health & safety information and resources on the UNISON website - www.unison-ni.org.uk/health-safety-education. Keep checking our UNISON social media channels and website for more information on schools reopening over the coming weeks.  

UNISON will continue to press the Education Authority and schools to ensure that our members’ right to work in a safe environment is respected.