HM Revenue & Customs has updated its furlough guidance to confirm that the scheme can be used where employees are unable to work because they are caring for children while schools are closed.
Earlier this week, the government added a new section to its Check which employees you can put on furlough guidance that states employees are eligible for the grant and can be furloughed if they are unable to work, including from home or on reduced hours, because they:
- are clinically extremely vulnerable, or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and following public health guidance
- have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in their household.
Employment law barrister Daniel Barnett said the latest update resolved an area of uncertainty around whether parents affected by school closures are eligible for furlough.
The furlough scheme will be available until the end of April 2021.
Earlier this week, the TUC urged employers to make use of the scheme for parents who were struggling to balance work and home schooling. It suggested that without this option, many would be forced into taking unpaid leave or cut their hours.
Insurance firm Zurich has offered its UK-based employees the option to take two weeks’ “lockdown leave” on full pay. It estimated that one in five of its 4,500 UK staff would be eligible for the new benefit.
Law firm DWF has also increased its leave allowance for staff who are juggling childcare and work.