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What if you are asked to return to work but cannot do so because of the need to provide childcare?

Schools for most children remain closed and it creates a really big problem if an employee has been asked to return to work but they cannot do so because of the need to provide childcare.

What are the options for employees?

  • The best option for an employee is to remain on furlough or being placed on furlough, provided they have taken a period of 3 weeks furlough leave before 30 June 2020.
  • Another option is unpaid parental leave of up to 18 weeks per child (for each parent) at any time until the child is 18. Parental leave is a form of statutory unpaid leave available to some working parents in addition to statutory maternity, paternity, adoption leave and shared parental leave. Parental leave can be flexible in terms of the time at which it is taken and the way in which the total leave entitlement may be split up into a number of shorter periods (unlike arrangements for maternity, paternity or adoption leave).
  • The employee can also consider taking holiday for some of the time.
  • There is also an entitlement to a reasonable amount of unpaid time, which is called dependants leave to take “necessary” action to deal with particular situations affecting their dependants. However, it applies in cases of sudden and unplanned leave, and therefore unlikely to apply in the current circumstances.
  • There is a scope for claims of sex discrimination if the employer’s working practices cause a particular disadvantage to employees with childcare commitments.
  • From the employer’s point of view, consultation, communication and flexibility is key when dealing with those employees who can’t work because of the need to provide childcare.

For more information contact Irina Polyakova at Eaton Smith on 01484 821 300.