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Employer Obligations: Coronavirus and Childcare 

Back in May 2020 we wrote an article on how COVID has impacted employees with childcare responsibilities. Since then a lot has changed in the world. We’re all used to working from home, not going for lunch and coffee with colleagues and friends, and not going to the cinema.  

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that your employees who had issues with childcare are probably still in the same boat.  

At the moment, schools are not open and are only allowing children of essential workers, or those at a disadvantage, to come into school. The rest of the pupils are at home and having to get used to E-learning. However, the one difference this time is that nurseries are allowed to stay open.  

Currently we know that we are looking at schools being closed until at least February. This means that you’re going to need to have a plan to help your employees with children and to help your business get through the next 4 weeks.  

Can I furlough people if they have childcare issues?  

Short answer is “yes”. The scheme allows people to be furloughed if they can’t work due to a situation related to Coronavirus. Schools being closed does fall under this. So, as long as your employee is eligible for the scheme anyway (look at their start date etc.), then you can furlough them.  

You can also put them on the flexible furlough scheme. This will mean that they can work some hours for you and receive their normal pay. The remaining contracted hours will be paid at the furlough rate of 80%.  

What other options do I have? 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve all found very creative ways to try to keep some sort of “normal” in our lives. Your employees with childcare responsibilities will more than likely want to do the same. If they can work from home, then allow them to continue to work from home. But bear in mind, that people with very young children may not be able to work and look after their children at the same time. So, you could look at different working hours for these employeesThese arrangements don’t have to be permanent (like they normally would under a flexible working request). Until we all know what the new “normal” is, we’re all riding the wave, so it’s really about being as flexible as possible right now.  

Communication is key! 

As with most situations, having a chat about things can make a massive difference. If any of your employees have children, have a chat with them privately about how they are managing at the moment and if there’s anything that they need help with. Even if it’s a 2 week change in hours so they can get their children settled back into homeschooling and E-learning.  


We are encouraging as much flexibility as possible with your employees’ needs during this difficult times. Check out this article from the Independent about the impact on working parents.

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