Schools out COVID19

Schools out COVID19

In view of the Government announcements that all of our schools across England will close on Friday 20 March.

We are finding everyone is baffled by this, parents are confused as to what to do about childcare, employers need information to pass Team Members about entitlements and pay this has now become our hot topic, whilst we are not here to cast aspersions as this is an unprecedented situation, we can still offer you some simple and effect advice to help.

There are options available to parents who need to stay home to look after children, you could offer:

Dependants Leave

This would be time to take a reasonable amount of time off to deal with certain prescribed emergencies involving certain dependants.

Time off for Dependants can be taken, for example, if a dependant falls ill or is injured, if care arrangements break down, or to arrange or attend a dependant’s funeral. A dependant can be:

  • A child (including adopted child);
  • Husband;
  • Wife;
  • Parent;
  • It also includes someone who lives in your household; and
  • Someone who reasonably relies on you, such as an elderly relative.

Any time taken off must be necessary and reasonable in the particular circumstances. Time off for Dependants is normally unpaid, it is important to act reasonably to allow your Team to manage their time and work life balance.

You may also have contractual terms for your Teams which would offer enhancements to the terms including payment whilst on leave

Career Breaks

In the current climate you may also want to consider allowing Team Members the option to take a career break subject to certain conditions being satisfied, then return to work at the end of that break.
You can set a period which is relevant and in the current climate you may wish to relax the timescales and other clauses as below:

The conditions that must be satisfied are:

A career break must be for an agreed duration which you may relax to 1 months and 18 months.
Career breaks will only be available to Team Members who have a minimum of 1 years’ continuous employment with you.
You may now consider amending the timeframe for Team Members, allowing them to make a request for a career break at least 1 week before the proposed start date.
The purpose of the career break must be agreed with you in advance and a career break will not be granted where the intended purpose is to enable the Team Member to take up other paid employment.
Under normal circumstances a career break can be used for a variety of purposes, such as time off: to undergo a college or university course, on account of family responsibilities, to allow a Team Member to pursue a personal interest or undertake voluntary work, for overseas travel or for any other purpose agreed with you. Any career break granted will be unpaid.

Flexible Working

We are all aware at the moment flexible working has now become one of necessity, it is now a reality and will be more so to perhaps offer this as an option to assist your Team Members to balance their work and home life. You could consider requests from Team Members to vary their working hours or work patterns.
You should consider these taking into account the impact on the organisation, fellow Team Members and any other relevant factors.

Any Team Members with at least 26 weeks service have the right to make a formal written request for flexible working arrangements. Please note that only one such request may be made in any 12-month period and that flexible working is not an automatic or statutory entitlement.

  • The current operational needs of the Department/Business or area that they work;
  • The burden of any additional costs is not unacceptable to you or the Department;
  • Whether the proposal would create an inability to reorganise work amongst existing Team Members;
  • Whether the proposal would have a detrimental effect on your business’ ability to meet customer demand;
  • Assessment of tasks during the periods of the proposed new work pattern;
  • Where you have any planned structural changes, for example, where you intend to reorganise or change your business;
  • Following an assessment where it is felt there may be a detrimental impact on performance; and or
  • Where it is considered the change will have a detrimental impact on quality and or Customer Service will be impacted.

Annual Leave

In the circumstances you are potentially quieter than normal so to perhaps offer annual leave at this time as an option to assist your Team Members to balance their work and home life. You could consider requests from Team Members
You will have an annual leave policy, and this will be in line with statutory guidelines.
The provisions relating to each Team Members entitlement to paid annual leave will be set in their contracts of employment, you may also offer them unpaid leave.


Working from Home

As the Coronavirus impacts us, we have seen more and more working from home (WFH), this can work exceptionally well when you have the mechanisms in place to manage the process and Team Members have the right mindset.
This may be an option to consider in certain circumstances, I would err on the side of caution where this is allowed when WFH impacts the work life balance, this will surely happen when we consider the implications of the younger children that need to be cared for over the coming months.
We need to consider the health and wellbeing not just of the Team Members but as an employer we have a duty of care to ensure WFH is the best option.


If you need any help in these uncertain times we are here to support and guide you through, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.


Fran Crossland

19 March 2020

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