Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed a third national lockdown in England this evening, with the address coming following measures being announced across the UK today. The Prime Minister said all schools would close immediately, except for children of key workers and those classed as vulnerable.
The stringent measures mean many may find themselves concerned about how they will be able to continue working while caring for their children amid the schools closures.
Can a person be furloughed for childcare or if children are off school?
The government extended the furlough scheme until April 30, 2021.
Under the furlough scheme, formally the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an eligible person’s employer can claim 80 percent of your usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
“All employers with a UK, Isle of Man or Channel Island bank account and a UK PAYE scheme can claim the grant,” government guidance states.
“They do not need to have previously claimed for you before 30 October 2020.”
If a person cannot work because of childcare or caring commitments, their employer can be put on furlough.
This is as long as their caring responsibilities are because of coronavirus.
Government guidance explains to employers which employees can be put on furlough and claimed for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
It provides two instances of when an eligible employee can be furloughed due to their health having been affected by COVID-19 or any other conditions.
The eligible person can be furloughed if they are unable to work because they are clinically extremely vulnerable, or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and following public health guidance.
Alternatively, they can be furloughed if they are “unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19), including employees that need to look after children”.
“It may be possible for you to work from home instead of going on furlough,” states the charity Working Families.
“If it is, then you should discuss with your employer if you can do so.
“If you are caring for children because your normal childcare or school is closed because of cover, you may not be able to work from home due to your children’s needs and can ask to be furloughed.
“If you can’t work from home because of your role, or if you are unable to work (including from home) due to your caring responsibilities because of coronavirus, you can be furloughed for this reason.”
What is a childcare bubble?
Should a person care for a child under the age of 14, they may be able to make a childcare bubble with another household as a form of informal – meaning unpaid and unregistered – childcare.
This enables friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.
All adults in both households must agree to the arrangement.
“Members of either household can provide childcare in a home or public place. This includes overnight care,” states the government guidance.