Portugal: FNE calls for adequate framework of absence for teachers in risk groups

© FNE Portugal

The Federação Nacional da Educação (FNE), ETUCE member organisation from Portugal surveyed 1316 teachers throughout the country to assess the conditions in schools since their reopening during the pandemic.

The union found that more than 1 in 4 teachers and non-teachers (26.4% and 27.8% respectively) belong to a high-risk group with regards to COVID-19. This represents an estimated 38 000 teachers at risk. Yet, and despite 13% of all teachers having indicated their wish to telework (as of 30 October 2020) only 700 teachers had submitted medical statements allowing them to stay home.

According to FNE the lack of a clear and appropriate national framework to regulate leaves during the pandemic has resulted in nearly all teachers belonging to the high-risk group were still going into school to teach.

Based on a legal examination, the union reminds the Portuguese education authorities that teachers, given the nature of their work, are entitled to opting for telework and that telework is mandatory for teachers belonging to a high-risk group. The lack of a clear framework regulating the COVID-19 leave constitutes an impediment to teachers’ exercising their rights and must be addressed.

Indeed, reopening schools while safeguarding the health and safety of education personnel, students and families, is a challenging exercise. This is why ETUCE has consistently called for expert-based, responsible and adequate health and safety measures, designed with the consultation of education personnel and their representatives. Looking ahead, ETUCE continues to stand with its member organisations in their work to facilitate the recovery of the education sector and their efforts to achieving healthy, safe, and inclusive school environments.

Read the full ETUCE statement The Road to Recovery from the COVID-19 Crisis