A school in Slough took away teachers’ rights to a paid Eid holiday without informing them.
Muslim members of staff at Arbour Vale School only realised the policy had changed when they requested holiday a few weeks ago. They say it’s unfair they were told to take it off unpaid and fear it could set a precedent for other schools to follow suit.
Staff were previously entitled to three days paid leave for religious holidays and weren’t expecting to lose this privilege after the school was taken over by the Orchard Hill College Academy Trust (OHCAT) in November.
Teacher Memtaz Khan told The Metro the new policy is “discrimination” and has refused to rule out legal action if management refuses to budge.
Ms Khan told Metro.co.uk: “For me personally it’s a big deal because it is our religious belief. This will affect us all and every Muslim in the future. Other schools will follow and make this unpaid leave.
“It’s not about money, it’s the principle and about our rights. They very well know how much our religious festival means to us.”
She says automatically having time off for Christian holidays doesn’t mean a great deal to her and fellow Muslim staff at the school in Slough.
A statement from OHCAT CEO and Principal Dr Caroline Allen said: “Before joining OHCAT, Arbour Vale School was maintained by Slough Borough Council and followed their policies. As part of the conversion process to academy status, staff at Arbour Vale School were consulted and informed of differences between the two organisations policies. All our policies are set with the best interests of our pupils in mind.
“OHCAT policy does not offer paid time off for religious festivals. However staff from Arbour Vale School that have requested time off to celebrate Eid have been able to do so as unpaid leave. In light of this matter we will be reviewing our policy to ensure that there is clarity for all our staff going forward.”
However, Arbour Vale’s headteacher has now sent an email to staff letting them know they would be entitled to one day paid religious holiday per year.