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Never work with children or animals…except when coronavirus strikes!

Working at home has its challenges but add children into the mix and there’s a whole other set of issues to contend with. What you need to know as an employee and employer.

Older children will have school work, social media, Netflix (other platforms are available…), etc. and will be able to entertain themselves, even being able to take themselves out for a walk / exercise if they’re old enough, but younger children and babies who are normally in nurseries are going to be more difficult to look after while balancing work.

Key workers aside, employees will need to work out what work they can do at home (assuming they can perform their work at home).

Some considerations

  • They may need to change or reduce their hours (and pay) for example if they can’t juggle work with their caring responsibilities or take holiday or unpaid leave.
  • Another option, which isn’t long term, would be to allow employees to take time off in lieu now but make up the time later (TOIL in reverse). As the social distancing and self-isolation restrictions are set to last until further notice this could amount to a significant amount of time and therefore should only be used as a temporary measure.
  • For those employees who work part-time they may be in a better position as they can spread their hours over seven days as opposed to say three. Those lucky to have a partner to help share the caring side will help.
  • For single parents however, this isn’t an option. One possible solution could be to link up with another single parent and form a temporary pseudo family to help with caring and working (obviously social distancing will be imperative to prevent the further spread of the virus and possibly even self-isolation of pseudo families which may be a lot to ask of employees but fine if they want to do so).

Clearly if working from home is not an option due to the role itself (customer-facing, for example) employees will have to take holiday, unpaid leave, unpaid career breaks or sabbaticals, etc. Unless they can get childcare for some of the time which may be possible but parents are unlikely to be able to rely on grandparents given Government guidance (according to some statistics, grandparents help out with the care of their grandchildren in 97% of families).

One final note, with children knocking around, extra precautions will need to be taken regarding loose cables and computer equipment so that children do not trip or pull monitors over.

The health and safety elements regarding working from home should be reiterated to employees adding in that they may need to look at their home office / set-up from their child’s view to identify the hazards and remove them.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022.


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