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4 January, 2021 Open access

TUC reminds employers they can furlough working parents with childcare difficulties during school closures

Union body also calls on government to give self-employed working parents automatic access to the SEISS

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has reminded employers that they can furlough working parents affected by childcare difficulties during school closures.

Following the government’s announcement last week that some schools would not reopen to all children as planned this week, the TUC raises concerns that not all employers are aware that caring responsibilities are an acceptable reason to furlough, meaning that many parents will have no choice but to take unpaid time off work to care for their children or even be forced to leave their jobs altogether.

NB - guidance to employers on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme includes advice that -

'Your employee is eligible for the grant and can be furloughed, if they are …. unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19), including employees that need to look after children.'

In addition, the TUC calls on the government to increase support for working parents who are self-employed -

'They should have automatic access to the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS )alongside broader improvements to the scheme. Otherwise - already struggling after months of disruption to childcare - they could find themselves falling into serious financial difficulty and debt.' 

 TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said today -

‘The health and safety of school staff, children and parents and the wider community must come first. This government has failed to keep school staff safe in their workplaces.

With many schools closed, many families will be frantically trying to find a way to balance their work and childcare commitments.

Without further action, many will have no choice but to cut their hours or take unpaid leave from work. This will lead to further hardship and will hit mums and single parents hardest.

Employers must do the right thing and furlough mums and dads who can’t work because of childcare responsibilities.’

For more information, see Bosses should offer furlough to working parents affected by school closures, says TUC.