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Supporting members who are having difficulty working their full-time hours whilst trying to juggle childcare or caring responsibilities.

Blog by Simon Leaper, Advice and Representation Officer at BASW

Recently we have been supporting members who are having difficulty working their full-time hours whilst trying to juggle childcare or caring responsibilities. 

This inevitably leads to the members having to complete their full-time workload in the evenings and late into the night.

For those who cannot keep this gruelling routine up, their employers are suggesting that they take annual leave, unpaid leave or that they temporarily reduce their hours and pays. 

Whilst the employer does not have to pay someone for childcare or caring leave (dependant on the employer’s policy) these are unusual times.  Up until the 10th June 2020 employees could ask to be ‘furloughed’ in these circumstances and although this had to be agreed by the employer, that option was there. 

Now that employees cannot be furloughed, many believe that if they are struggling with childcare/caring responsibilities then they have no choice but to accept the employer’s suggestion of working flexibly, taking annual leave or taking reduced hours and pay. 

However, before accepting temporary changes to a contract you should ask your employer if they have a policy on childcare/caring responsibilities during Covid-19. 

If you employer has a policy this will document what options may be available to you without taking reduced pay or annual leave.  This policy may not be widely available, your manager may not even be aware of it, so ensure that you check with HR to see if this policy exists and where you can find it. 

Some managers and HR staff can interpret the policy in a harsh way and they may initially state that you do not meet the criteria, but be clear about your circumstances, about the solutions that you have tried and why you meet the criteria. 

If you have already tried to negotiate with your employer and the policy is still not being followed, then contact the  Advice and Representation Team or call us on 0121 622 8413 for further support, advice, and representation. 

Only recently we have supported a full-time single parent who was struggling with work and childcare responsibilities.  Their employer initially stated that they did not meet the criteria to have reduced hours without pay and wanted them to take annual leave or reduced pay. 

Following our representation, the employer agreed that they could work part time hours flexibly without any reduction in pay or loss of annual leave. 

If you are unsure of any of your employment rights or want to talk through any specific advice in relation to Coronavirus, or any other employment issue that you may wish to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact the Advice and Representation Team or call us on 0121 622 8413.