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How do I manage my employees’ childcare issues?

Written by Martha Mitchell

March 16, 2021

For many parents the last 12 months since the outbreak of Covid-19 has meant a real battle between work commitments and childcare needs.  With schools shut for many months, parents were forced to home-school and often, whilst keeping on top of their own work.

We’ve witnessed a huge shift in the mentality of employers. Whether it be more empathy as we all struggle to fight against the pandemic, or a realisation that actually, life is too short… We don’t know why, but we’ve seen a change.

Employees may have become more settled with a better work-life balance.  Although we hope that employers will continue to support a better home life for their staff we are anticipating that some employers may push back and prefer a more traditional style of a set working pattern.  

In this article we discuss the potential HR Headaches which may arise as employees want to maintain the balance of priorities in their life, in particular in regards to children. 

We will consider how employers may wish to continue supporting employees with children as well as providing an overview of employee rights, so that employers can be fully equipped to deal with queries.

Finally we will recap the problems employers face if the work-life balance for their employees is not quite right.

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Parental leave

Parents who have 1 year of continuous employment and a child under 18 can make a request for unpaid parental leave for the purpose of caring for a child.  An employee in this situation can take up to 18 weeks unpaid leave per child in maximum blocks of 4 weeks per child per year.  The employee must make a request with 21 days notice.

The time off may be used for:

  • Spending more time with young children
  • Looking for schools
  • Settling a child into childcare arrangements