Employers: call for furlough scheme to be introduced to working parents while schools are closed

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) states that working parents with children, who struggle to balance their work-life and childcare, should be put on the furlough scheme whilst the schools are closed.

According to the union, many bosses may be unaware that they can take advantage of the scheme to support their employees who have children.

The TUC states that employers must “do the right thing and furlough mums and dads”, as many parents will already be “frantically” looking for a solution to the schools’ closure.

Aside from the children of key employees, such as NHS workers, all secondary schools will remain closed for students up until 11 January. From this date, students will return to lessons on a staggered basis.

However, most primary schools will open from 4 January, except those in London and South East areas of England, where the new strain of a more infectious coronavirus is rapidly spreading.

General Secretary of TUC states that due to the small amount of time parents have had to find childcare support, “many will have no choice but to cut their hours or take unpaid leave from work,” which will lead to “further hardship and will hit mums and single parents hardest.”

First introduced in March 2020, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) states that firms can place parents on this scheme if they cannot work due to lack of childcare.

During this time, the TUC reveals that one in six mothers reduced their working hours because of nursey and school closures. They also state that this is most likely to repeat itself during the second closures.

Therefore the union is calling for the Government to give employees the right to paid parental leave and flexible working beyond the current crisis and, for self-employed parents, access to the self-employed income support scheme.

A spokesperson for the Government states that it would be “socially responsible” for employers to consider an employee’s childcare responsibilities and individual circumstances.

“We encourage both employers and employees to be as flexible as possible during this difficult time to support colleagues with childcare responsibilities.

“That includes providing flexible working and home working arrangements, as well as considering requests from parents to be furloughed, which is at the employer’s discretion.”