Employers must expect disruption and support working parents through school closures.

CIPD flags challenges.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD has spoken of the impact school closures will have for employers as the coronavirus crisis deepens. “Employers must accept that there will be disruption and that working parents will struggle to be as productive as normal,” he said. “Employers need to make allowances for this and take a flexible approach, especially for people with younger children who will inevitably need more care. With many schools looking at remote teaching, parents will have to juggle their work with helping their children to access school activities. There may be limited space and limited equipment to manage both parents and children working from home each day. There will be disruption.

“Employees should speak to their line managers and HR teams to understand how they can best balance family and work commitments, especially as this stands to be for a prolonged period of time,” he added.

In a recent CIPD survey of 1,000 working people on managing working life during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis – including 282 working parents – respondents were asked what would happen if they had to take time off due to school closures:

·       45 per cent said they would be able to work from home

·       21 per cent of people said that they would have to take paid annual leave

·       15 per cent said they would have to take emergency unpaid leave

·       12 per cent said they would be paid as normal even if they were unable to work from home

·       10 per cent wouldn’t be able to take time off and the children would have to look after themselves

Almost one in five people (18 per cent) said they wouldn’t take time off but would need to rely on friends and family to look after their children. However, with social distancing now in place it’s highly likely that this is no longer an option for many people and they will be worried about their choices.

To ensure that people do not suffer financial hardship during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, the CIPD has called for:

·       Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to be increased to be closer in line to the National Living Wage and to widen eligibility to millions of workers that are self-employed and those that earn below the SSP earnings threshold.

·       The creation of a wage subsidy fund, payable to employers, to ensure workers continue to be paid and to minimise the risk of redundancies as a result of coronavirus.

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