School closures: ISM actions and advice

The government’s decision to close schools indefinitely from Friday 20 March 2020 will have massive consequences for members, whether employed, peripatetic or self-employed. Many schools have already closed but as you will be aware the Government has said that for the children of key workers and vulnerable children they will be remain at school.

The overnight loss of work will affect self-employed teachers immediately and it may hit employed teachers on zero-hour contracts as well. So we need urgent solutions to support them, in addition to the individual help we will give to members.

Our Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for musicians includes links to resources and guidance for private teachers, employed and self-employed teachers. We update this information regularly so please check frequently.

Read your contract

Your contract may well help you. If you are employed there should be sick pay provisions. Ask your Head teacher whether you are still going to be paid at the full rate. Make a note of what is said to you and confirm it in writing.

Ask if you can be involved in preparing lessons to be given online to your students. There is already lots of material on line to help educate our children and the BBC is ramping up efforts here.

If you are not being paid you need to find out why that is, so that we know how to help you. Your contract again will help. If you are employed on a zero hours contract there may be only minimal sick pay provisions in your contract such as just statutory sick pay or SSP. To qualify for SSP you need to have been off work sick for 4 or more days and you must earn £118 per week. SSP is £94.25 per week. Find out more from the government website.

If you are self-employed the situation is more difficult. You might be eligible for Universal Credit but as we all know this can take a long time to kick in and is worth just £317.82 per month for those over 25.

ISM members should contact our legal team for specific advice on their situation. Please note, they are working through a high number of queries to do with COVID-19. Thank you for your patience at this time.

Uniting across the sector to support all musicians

It is currently unclear how long the COVID-19 crisis will continue to impact the world. All workers, and particularly those who are self-employed and on zero-hour contracts urgently need reassurance that they will be supported by the Government. Otherwise, this workforce - through no fault of its own - will not be able to cover basic living costs, such as food or rent.

The ISM, along with others in the creative industries, is therefore mobilising to ask government to act as quickly as possible to put measures in place to financially support those affected by COVID-19 in the music sector as well as the other parts of the creative professions.

The welfare system is not devised for a situation where the government directs all schools to close and for individuals to stop work immediately. So bold solutions are required.

What we are asking the Government to do

We are calling for an emergency package to be put in place for freelancers and those on zero-hours contracts working in all music sectors, including teaching, equivalent to the living wage.

This fund would be administered by relevant government departments, for an initial period of three months with the potential of extension and further money if necessary

The amounts payable should be subject to ongoing review to maintain the most appropriate level of support for freelancers.

We will update you on developments.

Thursday 19 March 2020

ISM guidance on COVID-19