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Home-working With Children

How should employers deal with employees wanting to work from home with their children following the school closures?

Following the Government’s advice to close the schools and nurseries, it is clear that this will have a significant impact on businesses and employees alike.

With many single parent families or families where both parents work, businesses will find themselves in a situation where a high proportion of staff will either need to take time off to care for their children or juggle home working and childcare.

It will undoubtedly present various challenges, including interruptions, reduced efficiency, difficulties taking phone calls and temper tantrums (from both parents and children alike!), but in these unprecedented circumstances, there are various steps a business can take to try and temporarily support this arrangement. Here are our top 10 tips!

  1. Communicate your expectations as a business to affected employees at the outset.
  2. Request that employees note down any lost time due to interruptions and try and make up the time.
  3. Where possible, be flexible with their working hours. You could allow an earlier or later start or finish or for them to spread their hours across a greater number of days or work compressed hours to shorten the day.
  4. If employees need to make phone calls, honesty is the best policy. Employees should inform the client/customer that due to the current situation, they are home working with children and apologise in advance for any interruptions. This is a worldwide pandemic – many people are in the same boat.
  5. Ensure employees schedule a proper uninterrupted lunch break and if necessary, an extended lunch break, to spend some time with the children and break the day up.
  6. Suggest that employees use some of their holiday entitlement. Be flexible as to how they use it, for example, allow them to take it in hours so they can use the equivalent of 1 days’ leave to shorten their working day for the entire week and take the pressure off.
  7. If appropriate, allow employees to purchase additional holiday for a salary sacrifice over time. This will not have such a big financial impact as taking unpaid leave.
  8. Consider a temporary reduction in hours or days to enable the employees to juggle work and childcare.
  9. Remind employees of their entitlement to take parental leave. An eligible parent can take up to 4 weeks unpaid leave per child up until their 18th birthday.
  10. Engage with your employees and ensure they can talk to you if they are struggling.

For further advice contact Lianne Payne, Head of Employment:
Email: Lianne@askewslegal.co

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