Employment - School Closures
We are truly living in unprecedented times. The Government has just announced that from Friday 20th March 2020 schools will close until further notice.
The impact upon the UK workforce will be substantial. The Prime Minister indicated that support will be provided for the workforce but this has not yet been outlined. Provisions are being put in place for schools to remain open for the children of front line workers.
As it currently stands employees are entitled to a reasonable amount of time off to look after children. This has historically been used in circumstances in which employees need to take unexpected and generally short term leave. The current position is regrettably not going to be short term.
Some workers may be able to work at home but this does not apply to all job sectors. It is also worthwhile noting that the ability to effectively work from home will be greatly hampered by having caring responsibilities for children during the day. Up until now the majority of home workers have been able to work without also having to look after children.
With employees facing the financial hardship of unpaid leave; there is a significant risk that children could be left with grandparents who are largely an at risk group.
Looking at the situation practically, there needs to be clear and open communication between staff and employers. Consideration should be given to employees taking annual leave early and possible alterations to working hours.
More information will be provided when the Government makes further statements.