Can you be furloughed if you can’t work due to childcare issues?

Revised guidance issued at the weekend suggests that you can now ask your employer to furlough you if you can’t work because you can’t get childcare.

Childcare

 

The coronavirus is throwing up all sorts of questions around work and childcare. One of the big ones was around whether people who were unable to cover childcare could claim furlough status. Until the weekend, this was very unclear. Different organisations were saying different things.

The Government has now updated its guidance on its website. It now states: “If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronavirus (Covid-19), 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 your household, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.“ It adds that funds will start from the day an employee is placed on furlough, which can be backdated to 1 March 2020.

Furlough status – whereby workers get 80% of salary up to a cap of £2.5K a month – has to be agreed by employer and employee and the employer has to apply for it. More details can be found here.

Although it puts the onus on employers and is, as with all things coronavirus, ambiguous, the updated guidance will come as some relief to employees who were finding it increasingly difficult to cover childcare. These included key workers or parents of children with special needs whose nursery or school has been closed and who found that the nearest alternative was difficult to access and too expensive.

It will also come as a relief to parents who have had to take unpaid leave to cover childcare, which is clearly a situation that cannot continue for very long. The only other alternative was annual leave, which, again, is not infinite. The problem comes in trying to ascertain in what circumstances it might apply. For instance, would it cover parents trying to work from home with toddlers present? That could be an awful lot of parents.

Informal childcare

There is still a lack of clarification on informal carers. workingmums.co.uk has had many, many emails from parents worried about whether they will be fined if they send their children to grandparents under 70 who are healthy. The current guidance says not to send them to grandparents over 70 [this was interpreted by some as meaning all grandparents because the assumption is that all are elderly] or those who are at risk. However, it is clearly the intention of the Government to reduce social contact as much as possible. So perhaps the advice is deliberately vague. We know some key workers are using grandparents and a new scheme whereby medical students offer free childcare for NHS workers – this is generally because they have no alternative. The focus needs to be on keeping everyone as safe as possible – and that includes key workers’ children – and on saving lives.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies produced a briefing last week on childcare issues for key workers. It highlighted the things we already know – that key workers are more likely to be female, more likely to include single parents, that many use grandparents to save on childcare costs. It recommended that the Government could relax eligibility restrictions on the free entitlement to childcare for key workers, so providing income to early years providers and potentially valuable support to key workers. For instance, they suggested increasing the entitlement for key working parents from 30 to 40 hours, extending the two-year-old entitlement to key workers (not just the 40% most disadvantaged) or allowing it to cover younger children.  Other suggestions included increasing the limit for Tax Free Childcare for key workers and enabling schools to take in younger siblings from age two.

The problem is that this only came out last week and key workers have been asking us about childcare issues for weeks. And this is only a suggestion. The response by Government is not keeping up with demand because the Government doesn’t appear to be fully abreast of the extent of the problem and how vital childcare is to enabling parents to work.

 


Comments [118]

  • Tracey says:

    Hi I am a single parent for an autistic 8 year old , I have been furloughed for the last 3 months , I have been asked to go back to work but have no childcare , can they keep me on furlough?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      You are entitled to ask to be furloughed if you have no available childcare. The Government guidance mentions that you can use the furlough scheme if childcare is not available. It says: “If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronavirus (COVID-19), 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 your household, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.” The employer does not, however, have to agree to furlough – see https://www.workingmums.co.uk/flexible-furlough-your-questions-answered/

  • worriedmam89 says:

    I am currently furloughed but my work has re-opened, my child is due to go back to school Monday. I know I can go back till the 6 weeks holidays but what are my options for childcare then? really at a crossroads on what to do at the minute.

  • Diane says:

    Hello..
    I’m currently on furlough but due To go back to work on the 15th of June. My daughter isn’t returning to school untill September stated from the school. I am a single parent but I currently live with my 72 year old mum. Would I be expected to leave her with my mum just because we live at the same address and expect my mum to home school her while I go to work full time or what are my furlough options. Would I have to stay furloughed untill she returns to school or?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Is your mother able to home school your daughter? If you don’t have childcare you can ask to be furloughed, but your employer does not have to agree to it. You would need to have a conversation with your employer about what might be possible in your situation.

  • Kerry says:

    Hi I work in a school which will be reopening start of june I only work the lunch time period so 2 hours at the most. My partner has been placed on furlough but will be returning to work full time the same week. Our 2 year old goes to grandparents normally so I can work but obviously this wont be possible due to covid.
    Now my partner cant take time out of work with going just going back and I dont know where I stand due to childcare.
    Any advise would be appreciated

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      You should talk to your employer about this and explain your situation. You could also try contacting your local authority about childcare, such as childminders. The Government guidance says grandparents over 70 and/or with underlying health issues should not look after grandchildren. The guidance also seeks to reduce contact between households.

  • Mark Burnell says:

    Hi Mandy.
    My partner works for an NHS Trust and has been off sick with a sudden onset paralysis to her hand since December. Her Matron will not let her work until she has regained full mobility and has been cleared to return by occupational health. She goes down to half pay at the end of this month.
    Due to covid-19 all her scans and appointments have been cancelled and are being re-booked for October which is when her pay will stop.
    Would there be an option for the NHS trust she works for place her on furlough instead?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, Employees who have been on sick leave can be placed on furlough leave after the period of sick leave has ended if there is no work for them to do and employer’s operations are severely affected by coronavirus or they cannot work due to childcare or are shielding. The issue would be over persuading her employer to take her off sick leave in the absence of the scans and appointments.

  • Daniel Hill says:

    Can I be furloughed if I’m worried as my son has asthma. Mum is home looking after kids and I’m working in health care (kitchen)

  • Luke says:

    Hi I’ve been told I’m furloughed till the end of May but hearing I might be asked back to work, But I had a daughter nearly 2 and I’m looking after her so my partner can work full time for the NHS as she is in demand, But if I return to work early she won’t be able to work and care for people on a Covid Ward. Where do I stand? Thank you

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, Is there any way you can work from home and flex your working around your daughter after May? If not, have you checked out via your local authority education dept the childcare available in your area for the children of key workers? We know that nurseries/childminders have been telling employees that have a parent working from home that they will not take them as the government guidance is to keep the child home as much as possible, but if both parents are not around childcare should be provided. You can check out financial support via http://www.turn2us.org.uk. They have an online calculator you can use to check your entitlement. This is going to be a big issue in the next months because so many parents will be in this situation.

      • Luke says:

        Sorry I didn’t make it that clear, after May is fine for childcare because that’s what was planned and I was told I’d be furloughed till end of May, Just I know some staff at my company are been asked to go back early. I’m a Engineer so can’t work from home unfortunately.

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Are you able to talk to your employer about your childcare issues, given you were told you would be furloughed until the end of May? So it is not about asking to extend your furlough, but to complete the period you originally agreed to. Employers are being advised they need to give employees reasonable notice of coming back from furlough in such circumstances. You could also use annual leave [it continues to accrue on furlough] or seek unpaid parental leave.

          • Amelia desousa says:

            Hi I’m looking for some advice.
            My maternity leave ended last month I was unable to go back to work due to covid – 19.
            I received a email today from my boss asking me to return to work on Monday.
            I have called round a few nursery’s and they are not taking on plus they will not be able to meet one of my twins criteria as he is cleft pallet due to being short staffed.
            My manager has refused to furlough me and his reasons are because I’ve just been on maternity leave.
            I received a email from him a couple weeks ago asking me to take voluntary redundancy.
            I feel like I’m being backed into a corner and I’m being forced to take redundancy.
            Can I have some advice on this please ?

            Many thanks

            Amelia

          • Mandy Garner

            Mandy Garner says:

            Hi Amelia,
            You should not be made redundant simply because you do not have childcare – your employer would risk legal action if they did so if the role is still available. You have done what you can to secure childcare and there isn’t any available. Your employer can turn down a furlough plea, but it will not solve your childcare issue. Your options would then be to take annual leave [which you continue to accrue on maternity leave] or unpaid parental leave or to ask for remote working or redeployment to a work from home job. You could explain to your employer that if you take unpaid or annual leave it will be the same as if you took furlough because the government pays the furlough element – at least until August when employers will be asked to make a small contribution. We are lobbying to strengthen the provisions around furlough and childcare.

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi, My partner and myself are both classed as key workers. I have kept all my children off school so far as I was allowed to work at a different time of day to what I normally work. I have now been told I’m needed back on nights. This will be difficult for me and will affect my health as I will only be getting approx 3hrs sleep a day. That applies if I send my children to school or keep them home. Can I ask to be furloughed for this reason?

      • Mandy Garner

        Mandy Garner says:

        Have you told your employer your situation? Your health will obviously have an impact at work so they need to find a solution that works. What did you do when you worked nights before? Did you get help from family?

  • Steven says:

    Hi,

    I was furloughed 3 weeks ago, but have been asked to return to work on Monday. My wife is a key worker, so I have childcare responsibilities for our two sons (aged 6 & 3). Ideally I would prefer to remain furloughed as working from home is pretty much impossible with two young children at home. Is there any possibility that I can request for my furlough to be extended due to these circumstances?

    Thanks in advance
    Steven

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The government guidance states:
      “If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronarivus (COVID-19), 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 your household, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.”
      So you could definitely ask to extend your furlough, but it will be up to your employer if they agree to do this.

  • Amy Ainscough says:

    Hi, I am a trainee teacher, the university have suspended all placements due to covid-19 and now all of my training is done online from home to enable me to complete the PGCE. My partner has been furloughed which has been a great help at home with our 5 year old. Enabling me to complete daily engagement tasks with the university as if I were in a school on a daily basis as per my degree. His work have said that he may have to go back next week, which will really hinder my childcare plans and eligibility to continue with my work from home. His work have said that they will take childcare issues into consideration, would this be classed as a childcare issue? Given I am at home, although working full time effectively. Thanks.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The guidance states:
      “If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronarivus (COVID-19), 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 your household, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.”
      I think he could therefore ask to extend his furlough, but it will be up to his employer if they agree to do this. Could he potentially work from home and flex his hours, even if only for part of the week? Are you also able to speak to your university about what they might suggest as there must be others in this situation?

  • Neil Addicott says:

    I am currently on furlough and I have a 15yr old son who I care for with my wife (not his mum) I have been asked to return to work but cannot as I need to stay at home to home teach my son. Can I ask to be on furlough until the end of June 2020? I cannot work from home as I am a manual worker.

  • JANE WALTON says:

    Hi, I’m a single Mum with shared care of my children on an alternate week basis with their father. I work full time & when the children are with me, my elderly Mum usually looks after them when I work. Obviously due to lockdown my Mum is unable to do so. I am still able to work alternate weeks while the children are at their Dads, but not the week they are with me. Work are refusing to pay me for the shifts I am losing & say I should use my annual leave. I work nights so alternative childcare is not an option. Should I be getting paid for the shifts I am losing?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, If you cannot work due to childcare issues then you could claim unpaid parental leave or annual leave. You cannot be furloughed while continuing to work.

  • Alison jane says:

    Hi I am a key worker. I have been working from home whilst looking after my 10-month old baby and 9-year old I’m struggling to get the work done and finding myself really stressed out. I’m not prepared to send my baby to nursery I have no other help whilst the covid-19 lockdown rules apply. Could I be furloughed?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      If you cannot work due to lack of childcare availability, you could ask to be furloughed, but your employer does not have to furlough you. They could argue that there is childcare available, for instance. Do you work in the public sector as the rules on furlough are different for public sector organisations? Have you spoken to your employer about your difficulties to see if they can allow you to organise your hours differently eg working later or, if you have a partner, at times when they are there, or to reduce them, given the challenges you are facing?

  • Sinead says:

    Hi, I am at the end of my maternity leave, due to go back to work 4th May. My baby is 7 months old and my only option for childcare is my mum, which I’ve been adviced not to take her there due to the rules of going to different households. I work at Sainsbury’s, am I able to ask for furlough?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, As a key worker you could access childcare through your local authority and should be able to claim for tax credits, etc – check out http://www.turn2us.org.uk which has an online benefits calculator which tells you what you are entitled to. Is there a reason you cannot access that? If you absolutely cannot work because no childcare is available, you could ask your employer about furlough.

      • Maria says:

        Hello I also work for Sainsbury’s and coming to the end of my maternity leave and was wondering the same thing. Did you request furlough? How did you get on?

  • Evvy says:

    Hi. I am home working on a 12 week high risk letter with 2 young children (nursery and year 1 age). I work 10hrs a day and my husband had to move out so he could work. I asked HR to consider furlough but was told it’s not an option at all as I dont fit the category but i could consider moving my hours until afternoon / late evenings to make up my hours. This would mean waking at 5 fir kids then working until after 10. Is this my only option?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      You may be able to be furloughed if you cannot work due to childcare availability, but publicly funded organisations cannot generally furlough staff. However, it would be up to your employer to decide and they seem to be saying that you cannot be furloughed. You can take unpaid parental leave/time off for dependents and use annual leave or you could ask to work reduced hours, using annual leave, for a period of time or just ask to reduce your hours generally if this is an option financially. Are you able to make up hours at the weekend as this could also enable you to be more flexible rather than do such long days?

      • Sar says:

        I am working from home three days a week two days of the week my husband has them at home, he works on my third day, I am really struggling to work at home with three young children 11 month old twins and a 23 month old. I have asked if I can take the third day unpaid they say I can’t I have to cover my hrs, they have been flexible offering weekends etc but I have no childcare. Normally my mum has them she is self isolating as she is high risk. Can they refuse me to reduce my hrs and take that day as unpaid? It’s causing me so much stress.

  • VG says:

    I am a single mother of a child with Down syndrome and have health problems. I work in a hotel, which is closed but the staff has been sent to another hotel. The company says it does not pay furloughed because it only pays those people that the hotel is closed without having been transferred. I’m at home doing child care and unpaid leave. Can they do this? Thank you.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, What does it say in your contract about your place of work? Is there a clause which enables the company to change that location for business reasons, etc?

  • Sheila Knight says:

    Hello. I am a staff nurse in COVID ward on an Nhs hospital . I have children aged 5 and 11. My husband is a key worker in a care home. He is the main earner. He works 5 days in a week. We only rely on our friends for childcare which our friends could no longer have them because of me exposed to COViD patients. We are now struggling with our child care. No child care available in our area. Can i ask my boss to furlough me? Or should i ask for unpaid leave? I don’t know what to do? Thanks in advance

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Sheila,
      Have you contacted your local authority’s education department? They are supposed to be coordinating childcare for key workers and should be able to help you. Medical students have also come together to offer free childcare to NHS workers – https://www.nationalhealthsupporters.co.uk/. Babysitting service Bubble is coordinating it on a national basis – https://bubble.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360007119517-Free-bubble-for-the-NHS-FAQ.
      This is what we have been told about the furlough scheme and public sector workers by HR expert Kate Palmer from Peninsula UK: “The Government doesn’t “expect” public-funded employers to furlough people, but says there are a small number of cases where this may be appropriate, for example, where a role isn’t wholly publicly funded. So it may be that it is the circumstances of the funding that dictates it, as well as the person’s circumstances.” This suggests that public sector workers cannot be furloughed, but we are double checking this with the DfE as the guidance is changing all the time.

  • Stacey john says:

    Hi. I work in the dental dept and am at the end of my maternity leave. I’m a single mum and have no childcare due to my dad being a vulnerable person (my mum is my childcare) they can’t find me any work to do from home. Can I be furloughed? I’ve had my 7 days special leave abd they say my only option is unpaid but I’m a single parent and can’t afford that. Pls help and advise

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Stacey, Do you work for the NHS? It appears the furlough scheme does not apply to public sector workers as the aim is to support those who would be otherwise made redundant due to the coronavirus. The Government says this is unlikely to be the case for key workers and that it already pays for public sector workers so would in effect be paying twice if it also paid for furlough. We are double checking this, but is that what your manager told you? Have you contacted your local authority about childcare options? They should be able to advise, including childminders, etc. There is also a free childcare scheme operated for NHS workers by medical students – see https://www.workingmums.co.uk/free-childcare-scheme-to-launch-for-nhs-workers/

  • Bella Johnson says:

    Hello I’m a single mom who is a key worker. I work in a care home and my son is only two years old. No family or relative to look after him. Can i be furlough?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, You can ask your employer to furlough you if you are a UK worker and not working for a public sector organisation if you cannot work because no childcare is available. However, the local authority is providing childcare for key workers so you should contact your relevant local authority for advice in the first instance. You can get support through tax credits, etc, to help pay for childcare – check http://www.turn2us.org.uk. It has an online benefits calculator which tells you what you might be entitled to.

  • Kelly muncaster says:

    I am an nhs worker who works permanent nights on bank Have done for over 10 years.
    My mum was my childcare but as she has Lung cancer and copd she’s in 12 week isolation maybe longer .
    I have a 15 year old son who in his younger years suffered severe anxiety around death .As a single mother I’m not prepared to leave him home alone In these scary times can I be furloughed ?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, If you work for a fully publicly funded organisation it is unlikely that you can be furloughed due to the nature of the scheme. Have you spoken to your manager about perhaps changing your shifts temporarily and then you can access school support during the day? You could also ask for time off for dependents, although this is unpaid. Is there anyone else who can be with your son?

  • Lisa says:

    Hi, I am a key Worker and my husband is currently working from home (not a key worker though) and we have 2 young children that normally attend nursery. Our nursery has said that they will no longer take children if a parent is working from home as the Government advice is for children to be cared for at home if it is safe to do so. This is putting a massive strain on us and I am currently considering asking to be furloughed as my company are not being very flexible, plus my husband is the main earner. If I could get my children back in to nursery it would mean that I could continue in my Key Worker position – but are the nursery correct in saying that if a parent is working from home that they will not take the children?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      We have heard of several nurseries arguing that they will not take children if there is a parent working from home. The Government does say that children should be cared for at home when at all possible. You could contact your local authority about this as they will be coordinating childcare.

  • Anna says:

    Hi,

    My husband is a key worker and is working between 10-20. I am working between 6-14. I wa staking unpaid leave until now and finished at 9:30 to swap my husband to allow him to go to work and stay with our son. Can I be furlough? I have been paid less then 50% my wages for now. I understand that my school is open for children of key workers but I am scared to take him to school. My company almost agreed with my request but I am not sure if HMRC will stop my payment.

    Please advise?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, You will have to wait and see what HMRC says, but, strictly speaking, if childcare is available you would not get furloughed. If you are not a key worker, you should be enabled to work from home if that is at all possible.

      • Anna says:

        I have found some info that if I don’t want to send my son to school I am okay to leave him at home. I am unable to work from home.

  • Muddassar says:

    Hi

    My wife is a key worker working in a pharmacy. Our son is 2 and received a letter from the hospital explaining he must be shielded as he is clinically extremely vulnerable and must not leave the house. This means one of us has to look after him as there will be no alternative childcare at home and he can no longer attend nursery.

    Can either one of us be furloughed?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The updated Government guidance says: “If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronarivus (COVID-19), 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 your household, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.”

      • Alison says:

        Keyworkers can not claim Furlough. If the company ‘still has work for you to do’ then you’re not able to claim a penny. You must go to work or get SSP.
        I too work for a pharmacy. I got very ill. My company do not care, no sickpay, no furlough.
        Save the NHS? To do so, you must save the NHS Staff first. We are lambs to the slaughter.

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Hi Alison,
          Further to your query, this area around childcare availability and furlough for public sector workers is currently not totally clear and we are seeking clarification.

  • Terri says:

    Hi. I am a Ward receptionist for the nhs. My husband is in construction and out to work. I have used a few weeks annual leave already. We have a 7 year old and 18 month old who would usually go to my mother in law (also a keyworker) I cant afford to put my youngest into nursery whilst I work. My husband cant offer furlough and he is the main earner in our household. Can I volunteer for furlough? My husband is unable to work from home as he is a site manager.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, If you cannot work due to lack of childcare you can ask your employer if they can furlough you, but they can turn you down. The Government guidance suggests keyworkers access schools, nursery and registered childminders and they have increased tax credits etc. You could check with your local authority.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Also, the government guidance only specifically mentions grandparents over 70 and those who are at risk should not help with childcare, but it also mentions reducing social contacts outside the home as much as possible. If grandparents are healthy and younger than 70 it is less clear and we know some people are continuing to send their children to younger, healthy grandparents. As a key worker, your first option would be the childcare provided through your local authority, however.

    • Hannah says:

      Where do you live? This afternoon Welsh government extended the previous details they released last week so that all childcare for under 5s where parents are key workers is free regardless of financial circumstances.

      You apply through local FIS

  • Katie says:

    Hi, i work in Admin for NHS, I am unable to work due to my daughter being 2 (not in nursery) can i request Furlough?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, Is there no childcare available? The Government advice is for key workers to use nurseries and registered childminders which can be accessed through your local authority. Furlough is only for those who cannot work because there is no childcare available.

      • Katie says:

        Hi, no child care available, grandparents normally have her, i work part-time and get 0 benefits, thats why the grandparents have always had my children.

      • Katie says:

        Hi, the grandparents normally have her, i am part time receive 0 benefits thats why the grandparents have always had my children. I am currently taking unpaid leave.

  • Helen Scott says:

    Hello Mandy,
    Q: Can my live-out nanny come to look after the children while I work from home? This would mean that she is entering my home from another household. Her position also does not allow her to adhere to social distancing rules. Or should I place her on furlough even though I still have work for her?
    Many thanks.

  • Shay Thorpe says:

    I have just been moved to Kent from Redbridge and have no family or nothing down here. I managed to get transferred by talking to the union rep of Canterbury but now I dont have a school or anything for my son. He’s 10 so I can’t leave him alone but I also don’t want to risk losing my job either in the new area either

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Are you a key worker? If so, contact your local authority about childcare. If not and you cannot work because there is no childcare available, you should ask your employer for furlough.

      • Sarah says:

        Hi, I am a key worker and a single parent, I am unable to fulfill my job role fully due to not being able to complete visits, due to the lack of childcare and the LA have approached schools to ask for childcare for my son, but he is autistic and they have risk assessed his profile and they are unable to keep him safe and meet his needs with just a childcare provision. Any advice?

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Hi, If you are unable to work because of childcare issues – as seems to be the case – then you should ask your employer whether they can put you on the furlough scheme.

          • Lois says:

            Hi I’m an Nhs community nurse – I have a 2yr old who’s nursery has closed and my parents are over 70. I’ve worked from home for the last week but now my trust are saying there’s free childcare for her at a different nursery. I have reservations about this as she will be scared going somewhere new and won’t understand why. Can I insist on staying working from home? I’m a single parent (no father). They want to move me to acute which is fine but I don’t feel its right to put her in for a long day 7-9 in a nursery that she doesn’t know

          • Mandy Garner

            Mandy Garner says:

            Have you spoken to your employer about your concerns? You would have to negotiate this with them. Is there any compromise possible? Are any childminders free? I know that NHS medical students are organising babysitting for NHS workers too – see https://www.workingmums.co.uk/free-childcare-scheme-to-launch-for-nhs-workers/.

      • Stacey says:

        If both parents are key workers and child is three years old at nursery but not the compulsory school age to attend , am I entitled to furlough or can grandparents have children I if under 70 years of age?

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Could you clarify? Have you contacted your local authority about availability of registered childminders/nurseries or are you saying that you cannot afford these?

          • stacey john says:

            My 1yr old son has never been left anywhere before. I don’t understand why Nhs staff can’t be furloughed if they have no childcare.
            There are no nurseries nearby open either.
            I work in dental so I have no key skill

  • John says:

    Hi I’m a single father to two lads my son suffers with asthma can I request to be furloughed because I can’t do my normal job but I’m now scared that I’m putting my son at risk by Still going into work by being around other people

  • Lucy says:

    When I am key worker can I take furlough because of 4 y child and I am single mother

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Under the furlough scheme you cannot be furloughed as your job is still necessary, except possibly if you cannot work because of childcare issues. You should ask your employer.

  • Steph F says:

    My sister works at a surgery as a part time phlebotomist/receptionist. They have asked her to either take unpaid leave or holidays as they do not have enough work for her to do. They have said they can’t furlough her as a Drs surgery is seen as essential so they can’t claim. Surely if they don’t have enough work then she should be furloughed?

  • Mohammed zafeer says:

    Hi, I am a security guard, my mother in law is in hospital on icu contracted the coved 19 I have a 7 weeks old baby and my wife is stressed and struggling to handle the pain of her mother, I’m I eligible for furlough to look after our baby.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The guidance says that you can apply for furlough if you are unable to work due to childcare issues. It would be up to your employer, however. You could also ask for time off for dependents/parental leave, but this is unpaid [although you may be eligible for benefits or increased benefits with parental leave] or consider taking annual leave, if you have any. Further details are available here – https://www.workingmums.co.uk/coronavirus-childcare-information/

    • Katie says:

      Hi I’m me an my partner are key worker mum is a key worker we all work at the same place my mum normally looks after the kids for one day will she be able to keep doing so thank you.

      • Mandy Garner

        Mandy Garner says:

        The government guidance only specifically mentions grandparents over 70 and those who are at risk should not help with childcare, but it also mentions reducing social contacts outside the home as much as possible. If grandparents are healthy and younger than 70 it is less clear and some people are continuing to send their children to younger, healthy grandparents. As key workers, you should have childcare provided through the local authority, but it may not cover all shifts and the government is clearly keen for key workers to work. If there is no childcare available, you could ask about the furlough scheme which the Government has just said could be used in this situation. It would be up to their employer to decide, however.

  • Sarah says:

    I am signed off work for 12 weeks as I am in the vulnerable group for Covid19 (not the very vulnerable group which requires shielding). We have 2 children. My husband has to go to work still as he cannot work from home. I am trying to socially distance but this is impossible with children. Does my husband meet the criteria to be furloughed? Last Wednesday, his boss said he could be and sent him home saying the forms would be emailed. However on Tuesday we received an email saying he couldn’t be furloughed as he did not meet the criteria and he could accept a payment of £25 a day to stay off work. Please could you tell me if he meets the criteria- to help with childcare to help me socially distance or because I am in a vulnerable group? Just trying to clarify one way or another as I am feeling very anxious about him going to work. Thank you

  • Sarah says:

    I have been signed off work as I come under the vulnerable group (not the group that needs shielding). I have been practicing social distancing at home but my husband is still working. Can he be furloughed to cover child care or because of my vulnerability? Boss says he doesnt meet the criteria. What are the criteria?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The government guidance suggests social distancing for those who are living with people who are vulnerable. Furlough is for people who would otherwise not be able to work eg their job would be made redundant due to coronavirus or if there is no childcare available.

  • sharon says:

    Hello
    My situation is a bit different to the norm.
    I work in an NHS hospital as a pharmacist under Agenda for Change.
    We have a 20 month old and our nursery has closed and the council have told me that we don’t get a spot at another nursery as they need both parents need to be key workers (my husband is not a key worker). To be honest I’d rather keep our daughter at home anyway due to reduced risk of catching the virus and also not having to go through the settling in issue at new nursery/new nursery carers.
    My husband is working from home but can’t do this and also look after our daughter. So the options are he can either go unpaid or furloghed and I carry on working but he is the main earner in our family and so this will be a significant reduction to our family income whilst all our bills remain the same.
    I would like to go on furlogh myself as then we will still have not as much a reduction in our income but as an NHS worker would I be eligible for this would you know please?

    Many thanks for your kind help.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The furlough scheme has been extended to those who cannot work due to no available childcare. Your employer would have to apply for you and they may well claim that your husband could do this and that because you are a key worker your job is the priority. You could try it and see what they say, but they may say no.

  • Helen says:

    I am in a similar position to Gemma, key admin worker for nhs and hubby main earner working from home. He can’t work and watch children at same time. Can nhs furlough me if the department is busy? I cannot take parental leave as do not have 12 months service. Are there any other options? Thank you

  • Helen says:

    I am in a similar Position to Gemma that I’m a key worker, admin for nhs but hubby is the main earner and currently working from home so cannot watch the children also. Can the nhs furlough me? I have been advised I cannot work from home and I do not have 12 months service so cannot take parental leave. Can the nhs furlough me? Can they refuse Furlough on the grounds of being key/busy dept even if I’ve no childcare?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Have you asked your local authority about childcare in your situation or are they assuming your husband can do it since he is at home? You could ask your employer about furlough, but they do not have to do it.

  • Ada says:

    Hi I am currently working from home with a 3 year old to look after and finding it impossible. Am I able to be furloughed?

  • Gemma says:

    I am counted as a key worker as I work in admin for the NHS. In reality we are searching for work to do, as our department has been effectively closed to the public.

    My husband works from home, and we have three children. The school has made it very clear that they only want the children at school if there is no other alternative, as my husband is working from home, we dont want to put the children, or teachers at risk by sending them. However, my husband is by far the main income earner and is expected to fully work from home. He cannot be home schooling our young children as well.

    I have taken unpaid leave, as my boss said the decision was mine, and as far as they are concerned I do have childcare provided by the school. So, I feel stuck in the middle, and at a complete disadvantage for being classed a key worker, when in fact I wouldnt really have anything to do if I went into work!

    My husbands company have now told them they will all be working and being paid for a 4 day week. I have been in touch with my boss to say I could now work a day a week, she says that it would need to be all of my hours, or none.

    Please could you advise?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Is there no possibility to do any of your work from home? The Govt advice is to encourage employers to get their employees to work from home where at all possible. You can apply to reduce your hours through the flexible working legislation, but your employer can say no for any of eight reasons – the process of applying for flexible working can take up to three months, however. It will therefore come down to negotiation and you would have, for instance, to argue that it is in their interests to have you for one day than not at all.

  • Steff says:

    I am a keyworker in a pharmacy ( sales advisor) and a single mum. I couldn’t send my daughter to school because i am to scare and because we don’t have anyone in this country and if i get sick she wouldn’t have anyone that takes care of her.
    My job said its my decision so I cannot be furloughed but they will put me on unpaid leave.
    What can i do?

  • Jenny says:

    My partner and I are both keyworkers and rely on our children’s grandparents to look after them while we work the grandparents are under 70 and no health issues so are we still able to use them as childcare or does one of us need to enquire about furlough? Help needed

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Jenny, The guidance is unclear. It specifically mentions grandparents over 70 and those who are at risk and it mentions reducing social contacts. I know some people are using informal childcare, however. The government says to contact your local authority about childcare provision for key workers or to use unpaid parental leave. If there is no childcare available, you could ask your employer about furlough.

  • Cat says:

    Hi I’m a single parent working as a cleaner in a hospital at nite, due to the circumstances at present I can’t work as I’ve nobody willing to look after my children and all my family live quite far away, I was wondering if I’d qualify for the furlough scheme ? Ive heard lots of businesses are doing this but never heard of the nhs can any1 help ?

    • Cat says:

      Shud also have mentioned I’ve been off already for 3 weeks unpaid but can’t keep on as I’ve mortgage to pay And my bosses are sort of bullying me to get back to work

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      You need to ask your employer as it has to come from employer and employee agreement. The guidance has just changed so it is very new so definitely worth asking.

    • Loz says:

      Hi Cat, have you had any luck with furlough? I’m also a lone parent working as a cleaner and feel pressured to go back, also taken 3 weeks off as I have no childcare my son has asthma so I don’t want to risk school.

  • Diane says:

    Hi I’m a carer I’m due to finish maternity leave end of the month I was ment to look at nursery’s near by but their all shut or not taking on new children so is my sons school and my mother is over 70 so she can’t help what would I do regarding work

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, you should contact your local authority who will be coordinating childcare for key workers. If no childcare is available or you cannot access it, you could also ask your employer to furlough you if you cannot work due to a lack of childcare.

  • Alison says:

    Hello,
    I’m going to guess that the answer to this is “I don’t know” because guidance is so vague, but do you know if you can be furloughed for a percentage of your contracted hours?

    I’m a civilian police worker so I can work from home, but my husband also works at home full time and we have a primary school age daughter.

    I would like to work half my weekly contracted hours to be able to care for/school my daughter, so still provide a service, and be furloughed the other half.

    Any thoughts?

    Many thanks.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, I don’t think this would be possible as furloughed workers are not allowed to do any work. The only possibility would be to ask to temporarily reduce your hours, but you would then, of course, reduce your pay.

    • Hannah says:

      I work in HR for a key working company and we have had this request a few times,

      We’ve declined them all as the terms of furlough are that you don’t undertake paid work.


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