Teacher an­gry over High Holy-Day leave

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY LEON SY­MONS

A TEACHER has crit­i­cised a coun­cil’s pol­icy over ab­sence for re­li­gious fes­ti­vals af­ter she was granted — and then re­fused — paid leave for the High Holy-Days .

His­tory and re­li­gious-stud­ies teacher Lucy Nuttgens, 48, ap­plied in July for time off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kip­pur and was told by Aire­ville School in Skip­ton, North York­shire, that she could have the days off and would be paid for them.

Ms Nuttgens is a mem­ber of the small Brad­ford Re­form Syn­a­gogue and was help­ing to run ser­vices on the New Year.

Last Fri­day, she was told by the school that the de­ci­sion had been re­versed be­cause of a change of pol­icy by North York­shire County Coun­cil. If she wanted the days off, she would have to take them as hol­i­day, as time off in lieu or as un­paid leave.

“My hol­i­days are school hol­i­days and I don’t have time off in lieu, so I would have lost two days’ pay,” said Ms Nuttgens, a mother of four. “Luck- ily, my head of fac­ulty at the school took up the mat­ter with the head who agreed, that be­cause I had re­quested the time off in July, I would be paid. But now I am very wor­ried that this sit­u­a­tion will arise again be­cause it is coun­cil pol­icy.

“I am very an­gry about this be­cause it goes against ev­ery­thing that I thought had been sorted out long ago in this area. It is a mas­sive step back­wards in terms of re­li­gious free­dom that the coun­cil is able to do this. We are sup­posed to be liv­ing in a so­ci­ety where we have re­li­gious free­dom and this does not seem to be adding to it.”

North York­shire Coun­cil said in a state­ment: “In com­mon with most lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, North York­shire County Coun­cil grants em­ploy­ees leave of ab­sence to ob­serve re­li­gious fes­ti­vals. How­ever — again, in com­mon with most other au­thor­i­ties — the coun­cil does not of­fer paid leave for such ab­sence. Staff are ex­pected to take an­nual leave, or leave based on flexi-time.

“Aire­ville School in Skip­ton has hith­erto op­er­ated a dis­cre­tionary pol- icy un­der which staff could take paid leave. How­ever, the school has now amended its pol­icy, to bring it into line with the rest of the county.”

Ms Nuttgens has writ­ten to Re­form head Rabbi Tony Bay­field, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks and David Curry, Tory MP for Skip­ton and Ripon.

Board of Deputies’ chief ex­ec­u­tive Jon Ben­jamin said: “Broadly speak­ing, the law does sup­port peo­ple tak­ing time off for re­li­gious rea­sons be­cause, if they were not al­lowed to, it would be di­rect dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“Hav­ing said that, there are caveats about the abil­ity of em­ploy­ers to be flex­i­ble and al­low time off de­pend­ing on how dis­pens­able the em­ployee might be. Where teach­ers are con­cerned, the sit­u­a­tion is slightly dif­fer­ent as a class­room of chil­dren needs some­one to look af­ter them.”

He said the Board had be­gun talks with the Na­tional Union of Teach­ers and Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion Of School­mas­ters and Union Of Women Teach­ers be­cause “we want to try to take this for­ward with them so lo­cal au­thor­i­ties will adopt a more uni­form ap­proach”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.