Generally speaking, it is likely that such processes or procedures will need to continue in some form where possible although there is no “one size fits all” approach to this response. Redundancies, for example, may be necessary for financial reasons which are not going to disappear because of the current coronavirus outbreak. It may be pragmatic, however, to put aside minor disciplinary issues in the interest of concentrating on the current crisis.

The main barrier to continuing with such processes and procedures relates to staff absence, particularly due to sickness or self-isolation and social distancing measures. Consultation, for example in redundancy/restructuring scenarios or where a TUPE transfer is to take place, must be meaningful and schools will have to make a judgement on how this can be made possible on a largely remote basis and whether staff and representatives will have enough opportunity to engage.

Disciplinary and capability hearings could be modified by agreement or postponed. This does not mean that the conduct or performance issues need to be ignored, simply that addressing them can be deferred to a more appropriate time.

Joint advice issued by the NEU, NAHT and ASCL states clearly their view that: “During this period, it is not possible to proceed on matters such as reorganisation/redundancy or academy conversion which require meaningful consultation in order to meet the law’s requirements, or to proceed on disciplinary, capability or grievance matters which require hearings and representation.  In the most serious disciplinary cases, suspension on full pay may be necessary to facilitate this”.

It is finally also worth pointing out that local authorities may, in respect of at least some categories of maintained school in their area, have reached agreements with recognised unions via joint consultative forums that any such HR meetings will be postponed. If your school is maintained, you should therefore also be alert to any communication from your LA to this effect.