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The Government are Closing the Schools and my Children are now at Home – What Are My Employment Rights?

The government’s announcement to close schools to all but the most vulnerable children in the country and those of ‘key workers’ has created a lot of questions from parents.

Where parents are unable to work from home, they will have to find alternative childcare and given the current situation that’s no easy thing. 

The Employment Rights Act gives parents the right to have a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off during working hours in order to take action to provide assistance when a dependant falls ill or to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependent. 

What is a ‘reasonable amount of time’ very much depends on the circumstances. Normally, it will not be more than a few hours but can extend to one or two days, depending on the exact situation.

Unfortunately, there is no legal right to pay during this time off. Some employers do have policies which are more generous and do allow for a limited amount of pay whilst arrangements are being put in place. Parents should therefore check their employer’s internal policies and discuss matters with their manager or HR department.

If you do need time off to arrange childcare then you should let your employer know as soon as possible. 

If parents need more than ‘reasonable’ time off they will have to request this from their employer and it is likely they will either have to:

  1. Use any annual leave they have available;
  2. Use any parental leave they have available (employees who have children under the age of 18 and who have one year’s continuous service with an employer are entitled to take up to 18 weeks per child of unpaid leave); 
  3. Agree a period of unpaid leave with their employer.

These are uncertain times and the best place for up to date information remains the gov.uk and Public Health England websites. You can find more information on your employment rights and how we can help you HERE.

Cartwright King has lawyers in most areas of law, and the current information we are sharing is collated by Deborah Scales and Philip Pearson of Cartwright King.

The firm is aiming to keep our information as up to date as possible in these unprecedented times, and can change at any given moment. Please bear with us as we update as we can.

For more information please contact the firm on 0808 168 5550. All employees who can are working remotely until it is considered safe not to do so.
 

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