Lockdown 3.0 is well and truly upon us and, whilst parents have always had to juggle the competing demands of work and home, now vast numbers of parents (particularly women) are under pressure to home-school their children alongside doing their paid day jobs.
The current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, extended and available to use until 30 April 2021, permits employers to furlough employees if they are unable to work, whether from home or otherwise, because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus. This includes looking after children who are at home due to school closures, as well as caring for vulnerable individuals.
The decision remains with the employer as to whether the employee should be offered the option of furlough leave, and it is worthwhile checking in with employees with children to check that they are coping.
If you don’t think furloughing staff is feasible, discuss other options with staff members, which might include:
- Emergency leave – all employees have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off during working hours to deal with unexpected disruption or childcare issues (which would cover school closures, naturally)
- Parental leave – any employee who has worked for you for a year or more is entitled to up to 18 weeks unpaid leave for each child (limited to 4 weeks per year)
- Annual leave – staff might consider taking annual leave to look after their children, although clearly anyone home-schooling children is unlikely to see the benefit of taking “holiday” in the current circumstances.
If you need any advice in relation to furlough leave or any other form of leave or would like to discuss your own personal situation in more detail, please contact our Rebecca Ellerbeck at Rowberrys on 01344 466353.