Here are some options for you as employers if you are experiencing issues with employees struggling with childcare because of school closures;

The advice is work from home if possible and listed below are some options:

  1. You may want to consider temporarily adjusting a working pattern to suit caring needs?
  2. You may also want to consider working different or reduced hours around caring requirements?
  3. If this is not possible, you can consider furloughing the employee subject to them meeting the eligibility criteria? There is no right for an employee to be furloughed but businesses should carefully consider a rationale for not furloughing.

Currently the Furlough Guide states:
‘..can be furloughed, if unable to work, incl. from home or working reduced hours because:
– have caring responsibilities resulting from COVID, such as caring for children at home due to school & childcare facilities closing, or caring for vulnerable individual in household.’

  1. Think about asking your employee to agree to use annual leave especially if you are coming to the end of the leave year. Those furloughed can also use holiday BUT an employer MUST top up to full pay for any periods of annual leave. On this note, think carefully about restricting holiday rolling into the next holiday year as this may just compound the holiday position (note that unless there is a contractual obligation to roll X days holiday then an employer does not have to agree to do so)
  2. Employees can also request parental leave although this is unpaid so not particularly attractive. Parental leave is 18 weeks’ leave for each child under 18 years’ old. An employee can take 4 weeks for each child, each year but an employer can agree to more.
  3. Employees are also allowed a reasonable time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent although this will ordinarily be unpaid so again, not attractive to an employee,

By way of summary, it is really important to consult with your employees where this situation arises and try to agree a solution that workable for both parties.

Should you wish to find out how we can support your business with your HR and Employment law please contact us.