Employers flout the law, ruin lives and cost taxpayers millions

The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, secured compensation of £20,652,458 for members in 2013.

The figure represented an increase of over 30% compared to the 2012 figure of £15,610,924.

The compensation was awarded for successful claims for unlawful deduction of wages, unfair dismissal, breach of contract, constructive dismissal and discrimination on the grounds of sex, disability, age and trade union activity.

The largest employment-related assault claim was £113,905 for a member in the West Midlands who suffered serious physical injuries after being assaulted by two pupils when she intervened to break up a fight between the pair.

The 33-year-old secondary school teacher tried to de-escalate the situation verbally but as the two pupils, who were in a dangerously high balcony area, continued to fight she felt she had no other option than to physically intervene.

In the course of her intervention she was assaulted by both pupils, suffering injuries to her face, head, neck, right arm and shoulder. She subsequently also developed fibromyalgia and severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

She was unable to return to work following the incident.

The largest employment tribunal out-of-court settlement obtained by the Union was £50,000 for a female primary school teacher from Wales whose employer failed to follow appropriate redundancy procedures.

The NASUWT lodged a tribunal claim on the basis that the time for consultation was too short, the pool for selection for redundancy was defective and there were deficiencies in the selection criteria.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“The tragedy is that in most cases compensation would be unnecessary if employers followed good employment practices and followed health and safety procedures.
Instead teachers have their careers, lives and health blighted and millions of pounds of public money has to be spent.

“Employers flout the law, but it’s the teachers and the taxpayers who pay the price.

"Behind every one of these cases is a person who has been damaged physically or mentally, either because of injury or unfair dismissal.

“The distress and pressure of the incident to the individual teacher and their family has often been compounded by years of legal action and court proceedings before any award is made.

“While compensation is important, it can never make up for the fact that many of these teachers suffer permanent physical and mental injury and often cannot continue in their chosen career.

“It is deeply disturbing to note that instead of seeking to protect working people, the Coalition Government is recklessly deregulating health and safety provisions, employment and equality legislation. Consequently, more of these cases will arise.”

NASUWT Press Office contacts:

Ben Padley 07785 463 119
Lena Davies 07867 392 746
Amanda Williamson 0774 124 6202

Notes to editors

The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham from 18-21 April.

The global compensation figure covers the period 1January to 31 December 2013. The regional breakdowns are below.

East Midlands             £ 916,418.88

Eastern                        £ 1,871,723.13

Greater London           £ 1,969,044.63

Northern Ireland         £ 5,500.00

North East                  £ 1,597,146.69

North West                 £ 4,535,034.51

Scotland                     £ 29,646.01

South East                 £ 2,984,352.31

South West                £ 1,456,019.63

Wales                         £ 774,087.24

West Midlands           £ 2,040,094.30

Yorkshire & Humberside        £ 2,473,391.03

:: Further examples of compensation awards are attached, including the following:

:: In respect of employment-related personal injury claims pursued through the Union’s solicitors, a total sum of £1,812,538.38 was secured on behalf of 75 members during 2013 (including assault cases). During the year, 201 new potential personal injury claims for members were referred to the Union’s solicitors (including assault and stress cases). As at 31 December 2013, there were a total of 267 cases ongoing.

:: A 33 year old member in the East Midlands was injured in December 2007 when the lift in which she was travelling at the college in which she taught suddenly dropped from the mezzanine floor to reception. She sustained a serious back injury which led to her developing chronic pain syndrome, anxiety and depression, as a result of which she was unable to return to work. The employer initially admitted liability but refused to negotiate settlement and it was necessary to commence court proceedings. After supportive medical evidence was obtained from a neurosurgeon, a consultant in pain management and a consultant psychiatrist, the Union’s solicitors was able to negotiate a settlement of £500,000 for the member.

:: In May 2010, a 57 year old member in the North West was participating in a demonstration at his school to show how a piece of evacuation equipment worked. The equipment, a chair which was designed to help disabled people down stairs, was too big for the area in which it was located and as a result of trying to move it, the member sustained a serious back injury. The employer initially disputed liability and so court proceedings were commenced. In June 2013 the member accepted a settlement offer of £58,250.

Ben Padley,
Press and Media Officer,
Campaigns and Communications,
Hillscourt Education Centre
B45 8RS

Direct Line: 0121 457 6269
Mobile: 07785 463 119