Employees can now claim furloughed status if they cannot work due to childcare issues.
The Government has amended its advice on furloughed workers to include employees who cannot work due to childcare reasons.
The guidance now states: “If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronavirus (Covid-19), such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in your household, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.“ It adds that funds will start from the day an employee is placed on furlough, which can be backdated to 1 March 2020.
Furlough status means that workers get 80% of salary up to a cap of £2.5K a month paid by the Government and do not have to work. The aim is to stop employers from making workers redundant as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The minimum period people can be furloughed for is three weeks, but this can be renewed. Furlough status has to be agreed by employer and employee and the employer has to apply for it. More details can be found here.
Many employees have been finding it increasingly difficult to find childcare. These included key workers or parents of children with special needs whose nursery or school has been closed due to staff shortages or other reasons and who found that the nearest alternative was difficult to access and too expensive.
Many parents have also had to take parental leave or time off for dependents to cover childcare, but parental leave only lasts for four weeks per year per child and both forms of leave do not have to be paid. Others have been using annual leave.