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What options are available to working parents during this period?

  • Work from home; and/or
  • Emergency family leave.

Can an employer refuse to allow an employee to work from home if they will also be looking after children who have been sent home from school or nursery?

Usually, this would not be appropriate however, since the outbreak of COVID-19 employers may need to be more pragmatic.

One option for people with younger children may be splitting childcare with the other parent so that both parents are able to continue working albeit part-time.

In these unusual circumstances, an employee may assert their right to time off to care for a dependant. If an employee proceeds with this, their time off is unpaid unless there is a contractual right to pay. Given the uncertainty of how long school closures may last, it is likely that an employee can undertake some work if an employer allows this flexibility.

What to do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone

When necessary, an employee is entitled to take reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with situations which affect their dependants.

This would apply to situation related to coronavirus. Examples include: –

  • Employees who have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed;
  • Employees who need to help their child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital;

It is discretionary if an employer wishes to pay an employee during this time period however, there is no statutory right to pay an employee for time off.

Another option available is for an employee to request holidays during this period.

What steps should an employer consider during this period?

  • Talk to your employee about any potential time off that needs to be taken.
  • Speak to your employee and both plan ahead.
  • Try and agree flexible working as opposed to long periods of time off.

At Consilia Legal we have four qualified Employment solicitors in Leeds who are available to discuss any queries you may have in relation to your business and your employees at this time. Please feel free to contact us on 0113 322 9222 or at