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Coronavirus Update – school closures and my business

My post yesterday on Social Distancing highlighted the need for employers to “think outside the box” and be flexible.

With the Scottish government, closely followed by its English and Welsh counterparts, announcing that all schools were to close from the end of the school day tomorrow for potentially a period of 12 weeks, the phrase “thinking outside the box” comes to mind again.

I expect that, while accepting that it’s a necessary measure, there was a collective groan from both employers and employees on the implications of the closures.

BBC breakfast news and Sky breakfast news this morning were filled with stories from parents about how problematic the enforced closure of the schools was going to be for them when it came to working their contracted hours.

That has to be balanced with the fact that as a business, you need to plan for the work to be done. Your employees know that the work needs to be done.

How can that be done?

The calls I have had from clients this morning are all proactive and supportive in looking at ways to support their workforce who have children.

Flexible working and homeworking are high on the agenda.

The businesses that I am speaking with recognise that there is likely to be a lot of short term pain, (perhaps more than 12 weeks of it), but that’s for the long term gain as once the COVID19 crisis is over, they will still hopefully have these key employees.

Therefore if you haven’t already thought about flexible working and homeworking for your employees then this is something you should be considering now.

You should be initiating discussions with your employees now about what the key things are that need dealt with? Can that be dealt with remotely?

If it can’t be dealt with remotely, then are there other hours that the employee can do? If your employee works shifts, can changes be made to a shift pattern that suits both the business and the employee?

If it’s not possible to implement flexible working arrangements before Monday, then think about how long you would be prepared to allow your employee to have unpaid leave so that new arrangements can be put in place. (Your employees are entitled to time off for dependants.)

Bear in mind that there is no one size fits all option!

If you have any questions on dealing with flexible working or employee issues that may arise as a result of the coronavirus, then please contact me,  Julie Sullivan,

As a business, Young & Partners will continue to monitor the government’s guidance and we will provide updates where necessary.

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