Maharashtra Schools Warned of Action if They Fire Teachers or Hold Salaries

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Arunasish Sen

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On 22 May, a school chain in Mumbai had asked almost 150 of its employees to go on leave without pay until further notice. With reports coming in of other schools in Maharashtra either firing teachers or sending them on unpaid leave during the pandemic, the education department of the state has decided to take action.

“It has come to light that some schools run by private managements are not paying their employees including teachers and non-teaching staff, citing school closure as a reason. This is not acceptable as the government has already made it clear that paying its staff is the school’s responsibility,” the state education department said.

“A lot of schools are now telling teachers that they cannot pay them salaries citing balance payments from parents. Despite [the] majority [of the] parents paying, teachers are being made to wait for their salaries,” said a teacher from a suburban school which has paid only 30% of the total salary to its staff.

All educational institutions in India were ordered to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic since the lockdown first began in India on 25 March. Five days later, the government of Maharashtra directed schools in the state not to demand fees during this period.

Some schools said that they were finding it difficult to manage their expenses. “Big chains still have a lot of funds but budget private schools like ours get their funds only from fees. Most of our parents have said that they cannot pay full fees while some have not even paid a single installment. We cannot pressurize parents and hence our staff is getting only 50% salary,” said the management member of a school in Malad.

Schools that do not pay their staff have to come up with an explanation for their action. The education department can take steps against such schools.