School closures due to Covid-19
School closures due to Covid-19
On Wednesday 18th March 2020, the Government announces that schools across the UK would close on Friday 20h March 2020 for most children. This decision was made to attempt to flatten the peak of the Covid- 19 disease and to take the pressure off the NHS. Whilst this news was greeted with positivity by many people, there are some concerns for employers and employers across the UK. Below, we have set out the main points of information and provide some practical advice and sources to support you and your business’ through this uncertain time.
  • Boris Johnson explained that the Government had made the decision that it will be mandatory for schools across the UK will close. Northern Irish First Minister Arlene Foster confirmed the same for Northern Ireland shortly after Johnson’s press conference.
  • Schools will remain closed from the end of the day on Friday 20th March 2020 for most pupils, until further notice.
  • Exams in May and June have been cancelled.
  • Children of the UK’s ‘Key workers” (i.e., NHS Staff, Nursery and Teaching staff, Police, Armed force, Prison staff, Transport workers, Food production etc) need to be cared for to ensure continuing front line support (clarification on these groups will be given shortly) and there will also be a need to care for vulnerable children. Schools will, therefore, remain open for these groups.
  • Nurseries and private schools will be asked to do the same, with the Prime Minister reassuring, “we are providing financial support where it’s needed.”
  • Johnson reminded everyone that children should not be left with older friends or relatives, who may be vulnerable.
  • The Prime Minister reiterated that government will not hesitate to go “further and faster” over the coming days to take whatever further action is necessary.
If employees need time off for childcare or to make new arrangements, they can use:
  • time off to care for someone else (link to gov site)
  • holiday, if their employer agrees
Employers and employees can consider these steps:
  • talking to each other early on about time off that might be needed
  • agreeing regular conversations so both can plan ahead
  • agreeing flexible working instead of taking longer periods of time off, for example working from home or changing working hours to allow for childcare
If any agreement is made, it should be followed up in writing.