Schools are no longer obligated to fully reopen before the school summer holidays in England. Instead, schools will be given the autonomy to decide which years can return. The exception to this is reception, year one and year six students who have already returned.
This turnaround has been welcomed by many primary schools across England. However, the lack of PPE leaves teachers worried about the possibility of a second wave of infections. And, it may pose setbacks for your workforce for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, the threat of coronavirus overshadows plans to relieve parents of the pressure of providing childcare. Should this concern employers?
Schools staying shut
Why might organisations need to be worried?
It has been reported that secondary schools will be reopening in September. However, until the Government announces concrete plans, you may find yourself juggling a reduced workforce. This is because childcare options are a nationwide concern.
If you’ve started to make plans to return furloughed staff or homeworkers back to the office, be prepared for complications. For example, you may be faced with multiple requests for annual/unpaid leave. Or, employees may refuse to return because of childcare issues.
What options are there?
To overcome this, you may:
- keep affected employees working from home who already are
- implement working from home if not already in place and if possible
- implement flexible working
- If possible, have remaining employees take up workloads that need picking up
- outsource and/or re-direct workload internally
At this stage of the pandemic, you may already be well-equipped to allow working from home. If possible, you should utilise this option to address any concerns with returning to the workplace.
Ultimately, you’ll benefit more in the long run from school closures, and exploring long term remote working options, than the alternative. If coronavirus were to make a second sweep across the country, it would force organisations to once again readjust their workforce to reflect additional, more stringent changes.
Further, as school summer holidays are a yearly occurrence, pandemic notwithstanding, you can take the same measures as you usually would during these times. Finetune these measures to reflect the longer period they will be needed for. However, you have discretion in allowing employees to take leave at a certain time. So, care must be taken in considering rejecting leave requests as this may affect employee morale.
Getting back to work
Returning to work under the current circumstances is an unprecedented challenge with many variables and risks. To ensure you navigate it legally, speak to a Croner expert today on 01455 858 132.
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