The juggle of parenting and working has become more difficult than ever due to school closures; countless people are now required to balance work with childcare and home learning which the majority have not experienced before. It has been almost a year since COVID-19 began to disrupt our daily lives and we have all had to increase our adaptability and learn new ways of doing things. For working parents, it is crucial that they feel supported by their employer.
Employers must recognise that many parents could be struggling to work due to the latest round of school closures and should have plans in place to support them during this demanding time. This support will vary depending on specific situations, the first step is to let employees know that as their employer, you understand the challenges they are facing and are empathetic and supportive.
Furthermore, employers should seek to communicate frequently with their employees to find solutions, such as offer flexible working, staggered start and finished times, altered role responsibilities or for part-time workers to split their hours across more days.
Another option is to utilise the furlough scheme provided by the government or allow paid/unpaid leave where necessary. It is important to note that parents are legally entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid leave for each child or adopted child up to their 18th birthday. A limit of 4 weeks for each child can be taken in a year and the leave should be taken as whole weeks unless the employer agrees to greater flexibility in taking individual days or if the child has a disability.
It is also essential that the employees wellbeing is taken into consideration and it is worth signposting to all employees any health and wellbeing support you have available that could benefit them. This could even be something simple like reminding them of the importance of maintaining physical and mental wellbeing through taking regular breaks and getting some exercise and fresh air.