Coronavirus childcare information

Many people are concerned about the Government advice on childcare access given the lockdown. Here we give the latest Government position.

Beautiful teacher and toddler boy playing with tractor and cars at kindergarten

 

workingmums.co.uk is receiving a lot of questions about childcare in connection to the shutdown and many people are not clear on what they can do. This is the latest information from the Government:

The Government advice is that childcare providers, including nurseries and childminders, and schools should remain open only to vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

These are being asked to be as flexible as possible to cover key workers’ hours. There are reports of many closing due to a lack of children or staff. In that case you should contact your local authority for advice on where the nearest open childcare/school facility is. If key workers are able to look after their children at home they should. They do not have to use these childcare providers.

For information on nannies, click here.

Informal childcare

On informal childcare, the Government says those who are vulnerable, eg, those who have been told to isolate for 12 weeks, should not look after children. It states: “When making alternative arrangements, parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category, such as grandparents [ie older people over 70 regardless of medical need] or friends or family members with underlying conditions.” That includes pregnant women.

When asked about younger grandparents who are not at risk and other informal childcare, a spokesperson from the Department for Education said:  “We have asked nurseries and other childcare providers to close except for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children, as part of our efforts to fight the spread of coronavirus.

“The government has put a range of measures in place to support providers including continuing to fund free entitlements even if children are not attending, a business rate holiday for private providers, and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to support workers.

“We are monitoring the availability of provision, including for NHS staff. If critical workers do not have access to their usual childcare place, they should contact their local authority to arrange an alternative.”

It also provided the following background information:

  • Childcare can continue at a childminder’s home, providing it is for the children of critical workers or vulnerable children and that the childminder is registered with Ofsted
  • Critical workers can employ a nanny to provide childcare at their home if they want to.
  • A childminder can look after a child at a critical worker’s home if they register, or have previously registered to do so with Ofsted.

What if I cannot work due to childcare responsibilities?

The Government says:

“If employees need time off for childcare or to make new arrangements because their school has closed, they can use:

  • time off to care for someone else
  • holiday, if their employer agrees

There’s no statutory right to pay for time off for dependents, but some employers might offer pay their workers depending on the contract or workplace policy.

Businesses can also consider furloughing staff where possible, as HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”

Updated guidance on the Government’s website 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 is unclear, however, if furlough applies to those whose wages are paid through public funding.

If successful, funds will start from the day an employee is placed on furlough, which can be backdated to 1 March 2020. Employees who are shielding themselves or need to stay home with someone who is shielding and cannot work can also be placed on furlough leave.

Another option is to take unpaid parental leave. Parents who claim this to look after children can take up to four weeks a year per child and some may be entitled to benefits during that period – see https://workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/can-i-claim-benefits-if-i-take-parental-leave-or-shared-parental-leave-2/

Tax credits

Working tax credit can continue for the first 28 weeks you are off work if you are self-employed and you get Employment Support Allowance or would be eligible for it or Statutory Sick Pay if you were an employee.  If not, your tax credits will stop after four weeks. If you are not working enough hours for more than four weeks, you might also stop getting the childcare element of WTC. Let HMRC know if your circumstances change.

The Government has also announced a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element and an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents.

Also, it says that tax credits will continue to be paid even if people are working fewer hours or furloughed due to COVID-19.

Fees

With regard to fees, the Government says it is continuing to pay early years funding to childcare providers eg to support the 30 hours free childcare. It is also offering financial help for nurseries to cover costs, including a business rates holiday for one year, grants and access to the Job Retention Scheme.

For the self-employed (including childminders) the Government has announced an income protection scheme covering 80% of earnings of up to 2.5K pounds a month.

On continuing to charge parents fees for childcare if they are not earning, the Government says it urges all childcare providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents and to access any financial support on offer.

More information – click here.

Support & Community

Join our Facebook Group #schoolsout – support for parents




Comments [229]

  • Rachael says:

    Hi. We have been claiming the 30hours free child care at preschool have they have been shut for 8 weeks due to Covid 19. They are now open and have told us that the 30 hours free child care will last until the summer holidays only (which is what would have normally happened) and the hours that should have been used up while they were closed have been lost. Is this correct? Many thanks

  • pmat says:

    Hi,

    Im an NHS key worker and im required to go to work everyday. I dont have an option to take leave or work part time at this point. My husband works full time. the same condition applies to him as well. We have a 13month old baby. We have no one else to rely on for child minding except for my parents for when we go for work. My parents are under 70s. I cant afford nursery and i dont understand how a nursery staff can socially distance with a 13month old baby when they would have to feed, cuddle or change nappy. I would rather prefer my baby to be safe with my parents. My parents don’t live with us in the same house but we don’t have any other option. Could our baby be left with our parents when we go for work. Pls advise.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The best thing is to check with your local authority education department who are coordinating childcare. The Government guidance on grandparents applies to over 70s or those with underlying health concerns, but other guidance restricts contact between households.

  • Soo says:

    My son is separated from his partner and lives at home with me (58) and my husband (54). He has a year old son and wants to have him stay over at our house for periods of time. He did mention a week! We haven’t seen our grandson for 3 months. I’m worried.

  • Claire says:

    My sister is being forced back to work and has chosen childcare over school. Child minder is a car drive away but sister can’t drive. Is another family member allowed to do drop offs/pick ups while taking all precautions. Other option is taxi but then we’ve got to trust they’re taking precautions and financially that could make working unworthwhile.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Strictly speaking, there should be no contact between households unless in an outdoor setting at a two-metre distance. I would check with your local authority’s education department.

  • Chelsea says:

    Hi, Are grandparents allowed to look after your child if they are under 70 and have no underlying health conditions? If so.. can this be done in their home? Or our home? And would that mean they are allowed to touch the baby?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, the government guidance aims to reduce social contact between households. We have been told that grandparents are generally only allowed to look after children if they are registered childminders. However, nannies and other regular paid at home childcare can be provided in your home – see https://bubble.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360006579317-bubble-guidance-on-COVID-19-.

      • Sharon says:

        My daughter’s furlough has been cancelled and she has to work from home until further notice. Before lockdown I looked after her 2 year old at my home for 2 days a week. It is impossible for her to work from home and look after a 2 year old (her partner is a key worker so has worked throughout) and she is unable financially to send her to nursery for these 2 days. Commonsense tells me to carry on with our previous arrangement as I am fit, healthy and under 60. Would it be deemed as “illegal” if I were to do this?

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Was her furlough for childcare reasons? If so, are they saying that it does not now apply because childcare has reopened? Has she checked out any financial support she could apply for through http://www.turn2us.org.uk? Many parents are likely to be in this situation. As her partner is a key worker, he could contact his local authority and ask about childcare in this situation.

  • Sam says:

    Im an NHS worker currently on maternity leave. I am due to return to work in september after my OMP ends as i can not afford to live on just SMP. Are my children then allowed to be cared for by grandparents? Theynare under 70 with no underlying conditions. Its such a hard time as i feel like im expected to just hand over childcare when i go back to work. When I returned after my first child we had settling in sessions with nursery and he spent some time alone with grandparents. I cant afford full time nursery for 2 children and my husband cant be furloughed

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, This is a huge issue for parents. Currently, the guidance is that grandparents over 70 or with underlying health issues should not be providing childcare and that contact between households is not allowed unless outside. You can have paid at-home care, such as a nanny, which clearly many cannot afford. Things may have changed by September. Otherwise you could ask to flex your hours temporarily, use annual leave [which continues to accrue on maternity leave] to reduce your hours or use unpaid parental leave. You can check out http://www.turn2us.org.uk for advice on financial support – they have an online benefits calculator.

  • Marcia munhoz says:

    I am NHS worker and considered as essential, my husband has been furloughed since after April by his company. We have kept the children home after Easter half term until now. Their wrap around care is refusing to return to work now, I have kept paying her 50% during the time we didn’t use her. My husband has been asked to return to work. Can my husband ask his company to extend his furloughed situation? Breakfast clubs and after school clubs are closed at their school. Can I use a non registered Nanny and claim through child tax credit? We have no relatives around and both of us have a very early start.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, Your husband could ask to extend his furlough due to lack of childcare availability, although his employer does not have to accept this. He could also ask to change his hours temporarily due to childcare issues. To qualify for tax credits you would need to use registered or approved childcare, such as registered childminders – see https://workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/childcare-costs-and-working-tax-credit/. You could also contact your local authority who are coordinating childcare for key workers.

      • Natashia says:

        My partner has been furloughed since this has all started and now they require him to return on the 1st July, if not he isn’t being paid. I work for the NHS, unable to work nights so that means shifts are limited. We can’t afford childcare full time at nursery. Is there any financial help for nursery or any advise on what to do.

  • Francesca says:

    Hi my childminder is day she will be open from 1st June but doesn’t have the space to socially distant in her house – my husband is Furlonged in reduce pay and we can afford to pay the childminder just because she is open! I’m working from home not sure how long for? Where can I get advice regarding paying the childminder and can I still work from home.

  • Dawn says:

    My daughter might have to go back to work, I also work myself but have said I will help out around my hours, and then drop the baby of at nursery on my way to work on my 2-10pm shift. I’m really confused please can you let me know if I am able to watch my grandkids while there mum is working

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The Government advice on grandparents only mentions specifically that grandparents who are over 70 or have underlying health issues should not look after grandchildren. However, it also clearly aims to discourage contact between households as much as possible. Are your daughter’s shifts not covered by the nursery? If finances are an issue, she could check the online benefits calculator on http://www.turn2us.org.uk to see what support she can get. If hours are a problem, can she speak to her employer about some flexibility? Many parents are going to be in this situation and the Government is asking employers to take this into account. If she cannot work and is in danger of losing her job due to lack of childcare availability she could ask to be furloughed.

      • Ian Hill says:

        My daughter-in-law is a teacher. She has been in school taking care of essential workers children in the past weeks. She will return full time in June. So far, my Son has taken time off to help care for our Grandson. This isn’t possible in future as he has to work too.
        We are young Grandparents and fit and healthy.
        It makes no sense to me that our Grandson should be taken to a Nursery for day care, mixing with other children and adults, who themselves are meeting and seeing other people. It makes more sense being cared for in his own home, or ours, where there is less chance of infection and cross infection.
        Boris Johnson stated that he wants British people to use their ‘common sense’. So, that is exactly what we will do. We will take care of our Grandchild, protect him from seeing excessive people and other children in a Nursery. He is at less risk, less vulnerable and less chance to bring something back to his Mother, who could then take that to school, and around we go again.
        The Government need to start some joined up thinking quickly. Right now, they are losing respect for the miscommunication and lack of consistency in their thinking and messages.

        • Jaqueline Cox says:

          Dear Ian Hill. I totally agree. I feel the government has completely discriminated against families with young children. The pressure on them is immense. My son and daughter in law have been home working whilst desperately trying to embrace the demands of their young children, day in and day out for 8 weeks – they are exhausted!!. My husband and myself so desperately want to help and our “common sense” is screaming at us to collect the children and bring them to us which is what we will do. We are young grandparents and have the children here regularly (under normal circumstances) and it would just make things 100% easier for our children and our grandchildren.

          We have no desire to take the children to shops, garden centres etc… just give them space in the garden and form the family “bubble” which has been discussed for weeks in the press but is “lacking” in conversations by Government.

          One thing that worries me is that by using my “common sense” I will be berated by many. However I feel the need to rescue my family is great and for once I need to “face the music” of others.

          I wish you good luck with your childcare and hope you have a fabulous time with your grandson.

          • Diane Lewia says:

            We find ourselves in exactly the same situation and like you common sense tells me to help out. Also like you I am aware that lots of people will demonise us when I know the mental health of my loved ones is being compromised and also know we will take every precaution to keep everyone safe. My granddaughter will be a lot safer with us than at a nursery full of children

    • Angela says:

      I work two nights a week in a care home and are due to go back next week I am seoerated from my partner would he be allowed to mind her overnight in my house?

  • Joanna Turner says:

    My niece works as a receptionist for a company that makes parts for ventilators, among other things. Her 4 year old usually spends 2 days a week with her 71 year old grandmother and 3 days at nursery. The nursery is currently closed, my niece is unable to get her into another nursery as she is not a keyworker and her mother is not able to have her granddaughter due to lockdown. My niece’s husband is working from home but needs to do most of his work with customers over the phone, so having a 4 year old around is not ideal. My niece has asked but her company has refused to furlough her and so she has been forced to work for 2 days and use holiday to give her husband 3 days a week to focus on customer calls. Her holiday has now run out and her company have given her an ultimatum. She has until 18th May to arrange child care otherwise she will lose her job. Is the company allowed to do this?

  • Danielle says:

    Hi, I work for the NHS and have but I’m not classed as essential. I’ve been working from home with my husband providing childcare to my 20 month old however he is now due back to work this week. I cannot work 8 hours with my toddler who also isn’t napping through the days anymore. His childcare used to be split between the grandparents and he’s never been to nursery so I don’t intend to send him to one now. Where do I stand with work and using grandparents as childcare?
    Thanks

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      You should check with your local authority on this and tell them your concerns. The guidance states that using grandparents who are over 70 or have health issues is not allowed. It also aims to stop contact between households. Some workers say that if childcare is unavailable and they do a key worker role then they can argue that the priority is for them to get to work, but in your case it is not that there is not childcare available. It is that you don’t want to use it, which could be more difficult to argue.

      • Sarah says:

        Hi I’m a key worker n due to return to work on the 1st June but I’m not wanting to send my children back to school can I remain furloughed as I’m to scared to return to work and school anxiety through the roof where do I stand

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Hi, Many people are facing this worry. How have you been furloughed – is it due to lack of childcare? If you are a key worker, your children should be able to access childcare in any event so I am not clear how you have been furloughed. If your employer has allowed you to be furloughed due to your concerns about childcare, what will have changed by 1st June?

  • Jessica says:

    Hi,
    My partner is a key worker and is working full time, I am a PhD researcher and currently finishing writing up my doctoral thesis. We have a 7 month old daughter and prior to current circumstances, my mother (aged 55, retired and not at risk) would take care of our daughter at my mother’s house a couple of times a week so that I could work from home. For the last 6 weeks I have been trying to balance looking after my 7 month old, working from home and running the family home while my partner works long shifts. It is taking a toll on my mental health. I have tried to stop working, however it makes me feel worse. I feel like I am behind and I am wanting to complete my work as soon as I can so that when things get back to some normality I can get a job so that we are not only living on one income. Also we don’t qualify for any benefits as I am still classed as a student. My grandfather passed away recently which is also making things more difficult to deal with.
    Could my mother return to having her a couple of times a week to ease the pressure? Following social distancing guidelines during handover and stringent hygiene precautions as much as possible? I feel so stressed, tired, anxious and low, and I appreciate many others out there are too, I just need a bit of help.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, So sorry to hear how you are feeling. It is incredibly stressful trying to work and look after small children. The Government advice on grandparents only mentions specifically that grandparents who are over 70 or have underlying health issues should not look after grandchildren. However, it also clearly aims to discourage contact between households as much as possible. It sounds like you are going through a very difficult time and that it would be good to talk to someone about all the different stresses you are under as well as your bereavement. Compassionate Friends or Grief Encounter are a good start for bereavement. I know mental health charities are under a lot of pressure at the moment, but it is worth finding out if there are any local resources in your area so you can talk through all the stresses you are under or going to an online forum such as https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/online-mental-health/online-mental-health-tools/. It is likely that there may be some easing of the lockdown soon which may mean you can see your mum.

  • belinda easter says:

    hi my daughter is a single mum and key worker, she works nights no option to change to days we live on an island just her and kids in her home me and hubby in our home no other family and no friends we not lived here long enough to make friends in the sense of leaving children overnight, is she still allowed to leave them with me like we have been doing for a year now she is on zero hours contract cant be furloughed and cant afford to be off as already been off twice unpaid at 2week periods with 1 child ill then herself ill she goes back tomo into an enviroment of positive tested people and may have to stay for the unforseeable future there is nobody other than me to have the children who havent been out in weeks other than into car round to me while she works

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The Government advice on grandparents only mentions specifically that grandparents who are over 70 or have underlying health issues should not look after grandchildren. However, it also clearly aims to discourage contact between households as much as possible. If for any reason childcare is not available via the local authority, eg it doesn’t cover the hours parents work, parents can ask to be furloughed, but it is up to the employer to agree this and it is unclear if this covers public sector workers. It seems your daughter’s employer is not open to it. Another suggestion is to take unpaid leave or annual leave, which you say she has done and cannot afford to keep doing. We know some key workers who absolutely have no other alternative had asked family members to help. It would depend on the circumstances and whether you could argue it on the basis that getting a key worker to work is the priority.

  • Mel says:

    Hi, I have just got a new job and start Monday, I have a 15 year old who has his lessons via the computer. Can he remain at home as I don’t want him to go into school.

  • Jackie Burke says:

    Hi
    My daughter is a key worker but partner isn’t, he has been furloughed but has now been asked to go back to work my eldest daughter could go to school but her brother is 3 can I as a grandparent look after him? I am 49, would he have to stay with me or can he go home at the end of a shift, my husband is a key worker so is out of the home on shift?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, Has your daughter checked with her local authority about childcare provision? Key workers should be able to access childcare and the Government has increased financial support for this. The Government guidance is for key workers to use the childcare provided if at all possible.

      • BB says:

        Hi
        Can I jump on the back of this question? My daughter-in-law is a nurse and my son has been asked to go back to work (off-shore) the child care provided are looking to split the children up (5+3yrs) this is a difficult enough time for them can I step in and look after them? I Am 55 & fit and healthy, as their granny can u look after them? I have been furloughed myself so feel I should be able to help them? Really concerned about them?
        Thanks
        Anon

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Hi, The Government advice on grandparents only mentions specifically that grandparents who are over 70 or have underlying health issues should not look after grandchildren. However, it also clearly aims to discourage contact between households as much as possible. If for any reason childcare is not available via the local authority, eg it doesn’t cover the hours parents work, parents can ask to be furloughed, but it is up to the employer to agree this and it is unclear if this covers public sector workers. Another suggestion is to take unpaid leave or annual leave. However, we know some key workers who absolutely have no other alternative had asked family members to help. It would depend on the circumstances and whether you could argue it on the basis that getting a key worker to work is the priority.

  • Alison Swankie says:

    I’m a nurse who works for the NHS and I’m currently on maternity leave but I’m due back at work in May (if I take 9 months off). My baby is 6 months old. My parter is also an essential worker. We have a 5 year old and a 7 year old and also a 16 year old at home. Normally I would rely on grandparents for childcare and both me and my partner work long hours bitu not getting home until 8:30pm. Normally my partner would drop the kids at school before heading to work and my mum would pick them up from school, make them dinner and put them to bed and wait at our house for us to get home. Obviously a childcare setting isn’t going to be able to be open for these long hours. My parents are both under 70 and not in a vulnerable risk group but I will be working directly with covid patients. I can’t be furloughed obviously due to me being a nurse and I’m entitled to take a whole year off meaning I could take the last 3 months unpaid and stay off until August but that would leave us in a very poor financial situation. Would I be able to claim any extra benefits during this time to top up our income and when I do go back can I use my parents as childcare?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The Government advice only mentions specifically that grandparents who are over 70 or have underlying health issues should not look after grandchildren. However, it clearly aims to discourage contact between households as much as possible. If for any reason affordable childcare is not available, eg it doesn’t cover the hours you work and you can’t be furloughed because you are a key public sector worker, the Government advice is to take unpaid leave or annual leave. However, we know some key workers who absolutely have no other alternative had asked family members to help. The guidance is just that and it would depend on the circumstances and whether you could argue it on the basis that getting a key worker to work is the priority. Check out http://www.turn2us.org.uk who have an online calculator which will show you what benefits you might be entitled to.

  • Samantha says:

    I’m a key worker and my son who is 3 is entitled to 30hours free funding. The nursery he used to got to has closed and he is now in a new nursery. I’ve been told by his old nursery I can’t use the 30 hours funding at the new place, and if I do he won’t have a place with them when the lockdown is lifted. Is this true?

  • Helen Obaseyi says:

    Hi. Looking for childminder please.

  • Peggy says:

    Any advice, I’m a key worker and normally rely on grandparents but obviously they are not an option right now. There is other family members that can help but the government told us to avoid going to other households. Can family members from other households help out so I can work? Thanks

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The Government advice is that grandparents who are over 70 or have underlying health issues should not look after grandchildren and that contact between households is discouraged as much as possible. Key workers should have access to childcare via their local authority’s education department and financial support is available to help pay for this. Check out http://www.turn2us.org.uk who have an online calculator which will show you what benefits you might be entitled to. If for any reason childcare is not available, eg, if your work shifts which are not covered by the childcare on offer, depending on your employer you could ask to be furloughed. We know that some key workers who absolutely have no other alternative had asked family members to help, but it would depend on the circumstances and whether you could argue it so it is best to first check with your local authority.

  • S Stewart says:

    I am a keyworker category 1 which means I am needed to work. I am also a single parent with a 2 year old and 7 year old. My local childcare hub gave me a space for my 7 year old but not my 2 year old. Her dad can’t take her and I cannot afford to pay for child care as her current nursery is closed but still charging me £30 a day. My work have offered me to take 1 week holidays then unpaid carers leave but I can’t do this as I can’t afford it. Can my parents who are in their 60s and healthy take my 2 year old so I can work?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The Government advice is that grandparents who are over 70 or have underlying health issues should not look after grandchildren and that contact between households is discouraged as much as possible. Key workers should have access to childcare via their local authority’s education department and financial support is available to help pay for this. Check out http://www.turn2us.org.uk who have an online calculator which will show you what benefits you might be entitled to. If for any reason affordable childcare is not available, depending on your employer you could ask to be furloughed [although it sounds as if this would not apply in your case]. We know that some key workers who absolutely have no other alternative had asked family members to help, but it would depend on the circumstances and whether you could argue it so it is best to first check with your local authority.

  • Sandra says:

    Hi just a question for anyone that may work in the teaching side of things. I work in a preschool and just heard that apperently the government are thinking of “watering down funding” that setting are able to apply for. I obviously dont deal with the funding at where I work and my boss doesnt seem to much on this and further to this we apperently cant be put onto the 80% wage payment scheme for whatever reason but apperently this isnt a option according to my boss. If anyone could help would be great as it is a worrying time for us all I’m aware but with little advice on this I am now starting to worry about my income and providing for my child and Bills etc

  • Jimmy says:

    Hi, can you advise. I have been furloughed and receive 80% of my weekly wage. My partner is a key worker but only works 3 days. The Child minder we use has stayed open (she works from home). I am not sending my child as I am at home anyway so think it’s best to social distance (as per government advice). My question is as I am not using the childcare service should I pay anything? 80% or all the normal fee? Obviously a few weeks wouldn’t matter but as the weeks go on it’s a lot to pay. On top of that there is always the question of whether the company I work for survives ie do I have a job to go back to? If not I need to reserve some finances for us.

    Many regards

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, It would depend on your contract with your childminder. The Government is requesting childcare providers to be reasonable and says it is providing financial support, eg, through the self employed income protection scheme which childminders can access if finance is the reason they are continuing to charge parents.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi,

    I’m a key worker but my partner isn’t and has just been furloughed anyway. Our childminder is still billing us the full amount for looking after our child before and after school on the basis she is still available. Would we even be able to send our child to the childminder given that my partner is at home and not working, even though I’m a key worker? The advice isn’t clear

    Thanks

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The guidance encourages children to be kept at home if possible so in your situation, even though you are a key worker, your partner is at home and could be with your child. With regard to ongoing charges for childcare, it would depend on your contract with your childminder. The Government is requesting childcare providers to be reasonable and says it is providing financial support, eg, through the self employed income protection scheme which childminders can access if finance is the reason they are continuing to charge parents.

  • Anon says:

    Hi I would appreciate some advice please. I am a key worker in nhs so still going to work and my husband is working from home. We use a child minder to pick my son up from school and obviously as schools are closed we don’t need her just now. She is still asking for 100% of the fee as technically she is still open for key workers children. I wouldn’t mind paying even 50% for next few months to keep my son’s place with her but not 100%. I can’t find my contract so don’t know what it states. But absolutely can’t justify paying hundreds of pounds potentially over the next few months when we aren’t using her.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Is the childminder claiming full payment and how are they justifying this – to keep the place open? The Government has asked childcare providers to be understanding in the current circumstances and has put income protection in place for self employed people such as childminders. You could contact PACEY for more information – https://www.pacey.org.uk/

  • Lucie says:

    Hi there, I have a question, I am a key worker. I have 4 children, the eldest of which is 14 and the youngest are 3/7 yrs. Is it reasonable to have the 14 yr old baby sit the younger ones? Potentially for a 12 hour shift? I think not but my ex husband thinks its ok. Any clarification?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      There is no minimum age at which children in the UK can be left on their own, nor do laws specify how old someone needs to be to babysit. However, if the babysitter is under 16, then the parent remains legally responsible for the child’s safety. Moreover, under the Children and Young Persons Act parents in England and Wales can be prosecuted for wilful neglect if they leave a child unsupervised “in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health”. The NSPCC advises that children under 13 should not be left at home alone for long periods and children under 16 should not be put in charge of younger children. You could contact them for further details. It will depend on the children themselves, which only you can know, but is there any other childcare you can provide – local authorities are coordinating childcare for key workers? Do you work night shifts?

    • Natalie says:

      Sorry to butt in here, but Lucie you should go with your gut. If you or your children are not ready, then it is not the right time. Don’t do it if you’re not comfortable, no matter how much pressure your ex husband puts on you.

  • Natalie says:

    Hi, I am not a key worker but my job cannot be furloughed as it is ‘essential’. 80% of staff have been furloughed. I have two children and am separated from their father. I need to keep working and can do so from home but my children are young so home-working with them here is a pipedream. My mother who is young and in good health is happy to care for them in the day time. Is that allowed under the rules? I’m a single mum so if I can’t work, my children and I are homeless!

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Natalie, If you are not in a public sector organisation and you cannot work due to childcare problems you can ask to be furloughed. With regard to childcare, the government guidance is that grandparents over 70 and those with underlying health issues should not care for children. It also seeks to limit contact between households as much as possible to reduce risk of infection spread. Are you able to talk to your employer about flexing your hours so you can do them around your children’s sleep patterns, etc?

  • Nicola E says:

    Hi,

    I am a key worker who works permanent nights and my husband is a key worker who works days.

    My children are able to attend school during the week, however, we both have had to work this weekend meaning I had to stay up until 17:00 yesterday after being up since 07:00 the day before (32 hours later) and was back in work at 21:30 and today I will have to stay up again until 17:00 and be back in work at 21:30.

    Obviously this is going to take it’s toll on myself if I have to keep this up long term and is unfair to the children, Usually we would rely on grandparents (all in their 50’s) to help with weekend care – I can’t find guidance as to whether this would be acceptable going forward.

    Do you have any advice as to what we can do going forward with regard to the weekend working? Would allowing grandparents continue to care for our children when we are working be acceptable in these cicumstances?

    Both of our workplaces are unable to offer any flexibility with regard to this situation at the moment as they are both currently running on minimal staff due to COVID-19 related absences.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The guidance states that grandparents over 70 and those with underlying health conditions should not look after children. It also states that movement between households should be limited as much as possible. However, we know that some workers are using grandparents and there is a scheme for the NHS whereby medical students provide free childcare to the children of NHS workers – see https://www.workingmums.co.uk/free-childcare-scheme-to-launch-for-nhs-workers/.

      • Nicola E says:

        Hi

        Thanks for this information but unfortunately neither of us work for the NHS. I work for Social services under Local Government and my Husband works in the food industry so we would be unable to take advantage of this scheme.

  • Simon Coles says:

    Hi,

    I am currently working, my partner is not, we have a son with CP so he is classed as in the vulnerable group. I have managed to rent an apartment for a month so i can distance myself while i am working, however this was a favor from a friend and i will have to leave the apartment next week…. im wondering if anyone can guide me on what i am meant to do? I cannot give up work (i work for NHS looking after young adults), the guidelines have no real time line and i cannot be away from my family for potentially the next 12 months….
    Any advice would be really helpful!
    Thankyou
    Simon

  • Leanne Corby says:

    Hi I am a single mum to 3 children 2 who have asthma I start work on Monday as a keyworker but die to my children’s health there school won’t accept them is there nan allowed to attend my house to care for them when I working

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The Government guidance says grandparents over 70 or who have underlying health issues should not take care of their grandchildren and that social contact should be reduced as much as possible. The Government has also said that people who cannot work due to lack of childcare can ask their employer if they can furlough them. The employer can, however, refuse. We do know of cases where people are using younger, healthy grandparents and argue that being a key worker the priority is for them to get to work.

  • C Nelson says:

    I work as a carer, as does my sister. There are covid-19 cases where we work. My husband is a key worker too. I have three kids 2 school age 1 toddler. My sister an I have both been poorly and done isolation as have our households. Pretty sure we contracted it from where we work.
    Anyway, we back at work now and she usually has my kids when I’m at work in the evening before other half gets home.
    I wont send my kids to school at all given I know I am working with covid-19.
    Is it ok to continue my sister caring for my kids when I’m on shift? I see her at work anyway…

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The government guidance suggests contacting your local authority with regard to childcare and reducing social contact outside your own household as much as possible. In your case, you work evening shifts which may not be covered by local authority-provided childcare. Clearly the government wants key workers to work and your approach is aimed at reducing risk so you could argue a good case. You may want to double check by running this past your local authority.

  • Lou says:

    Hi
    I have paid for childcare from a registered childminder for the 2 weeks Easter holiday, but i paid weeks ago in advance in instalments. Due to the lock down and me now not working, she was not aloud to have my children, but has still been paid by me for the time. Can i ask for my money back? and does she have any rights to keep it?

  • Vicky says:

    I’m a working mum, not a key worker but suppose still work unfortunately my partners family normal have my daughter, due to lockdown no one can come to my house not sure what to do?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Are you able to work from home? The Government advice is that everyone should work from home if at all possible. If you are unable to work due to lack of childcare you can ask your employer to be furloughed. If you could supply more information it would be easier to advise.

  • Sandra says:

    My partner and I are both classed as key workers, me in finance and my partner in IT for a finance company. He is full time and I am part time, working 3 days a week. We have a 21 month old who is usually looked after by my parents who are both under 70 and without any under laying health issues. They live round the corner so my child can be taken by car and collected by car to limit any social contact. We are both able to work from home but I can’t do my hours without childcare. My child doesn’t go to nursery so I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending him to one for key workers and feel he would be more at risk mixing with other children. We don’t see anyone else only the occasional trip to the supermarket. Can my child still go to my parents as they are fit and well, as are we? The government advise is only about over 70’s and with health issues so I feel as my parents are not in this category it is ok. Any advise you can give would be great.

    • 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 we know some people are continuing to send their children to younger, healthy grandparents. As key workers, you should have childcare provided through the local authority, although we know that nurseries have been turning people down if they work from home as the advice is, where possible, to keep your children at home eg by trying to work around them – very difficult with toddlers. You could check with your local authority and express your concerns and see what they say.

    • Lynn Macfaddin says:

      I do the same for my grandchild is that wise ? We have not seen any one or been to a shop please can you advise c

      • Mandy Garner

        Mandy Garner says:

        Hi, Are your grandchild’s parents key workers and are they able to access childcare provided for key workers ie schools, nurseries, childminders via their local authority? The Government says grandparents over 70 or with underlying health problems should not look after grandchildren and its guidance seeks generally to reduce social contact between different households as much as possible, but schools, etc, sometimes do not cover the hours needed and some have closed. The Government says that if a school/nursery has closed and there is no other childcare available, a parent can ask to be furloughed. So it would depend on your grandchild’s parents’ circumstances.

    • Mumma says:

      Hi
      What did you manage to do with your son? As I’m on the same situation. And my son doesn’t go to nursery and I’m not ready for him
      To go and plus I feel his more at risk mixing with other children with key worker parents than he is being with my mum at my house. Where she will wash her hands when she enters the property and as much as possible. Also keeping her distance as much as she can. Leaving when I arrive home from work or my partner arriving home. I have tried to contact my local authorities and they aren’t talking any phones calls about the coronavirus so I can’t actually speak to anyone

    • Jackie Stevenson says:

      Both my son and his partner work full time shifts in supermarket and myself and her mum both watch their 20 month child . Can we keep on doing this as they need to work .I am in my fifties and have asthma and her mother is in her fifties and diabetic

      • Mandy Garner

        Mandy Garner says:

        Hi, Can they access childcare provided via their local authority [you can find out about financial support via http://www.turn2us.org.uk – it has an online benefits calculator]? The Government guidance aims to reduce contact between households as much as possible and says specifically: “When making alternative arrangements, parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category, such as grandparents [ie older people over 70 regardless of medical need] or friends or family members with underlying conditions.”

  • Tania says:

    Hi my neighbour is a care assistant and her 52 year old mum comes round to baby sit her children is this ok

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The government advice is to reduce all social contact. Key workers can access schools/nurseries and childminders via their local authority. There is updated guidance on furloughing workers – workers can now ask to be furloughed if they cannot work due to childcare reasons.

    • Lily says:

      Surely this is up to your neighbour to find out and not you she obviously has to use her mum as no other alternative. I have to use my parents as where I work the hours don’t suit other options and my work don’t offer furlough only offer me unpaid as long as I need it which I can’t afford,just bugs me seeing questions about someone else’s life she a key worker doing a great job

    • Lyn says:

      Hi, myself and my partner are both keyworkers. I am a teacher and only in on a rotational basis about once a week, my partner is a paramedic. I have 2 children a 9 year old and a 3 year old ( he does not attend a nursery as usually family looks after him whilst I’m at work). Is my sister age 22 allowed to come and look after my 2 children at my house when both myself and my partner are at work? I feel this is limiting the exposure risk for all as sending my daughter and son to 2 different childcare providers would put them and more people at risk and also my son is not used to any nursery so it would be hard to try and settle him in during this hard time.

      • Mandy Garner

        Mandy Garner says:

        The government guidance seeks to reduce social contacts outside the home as much as possible. As key workers, you should have childcare provided through the local authority and you should raise your concerns with them and see what they say.

        • jennifer griffiths says:

          But sending them to a nursery increases social interaction when compared to the situation this lady has just described. It doesn’t make sense to me?

          • Mandy Garner

            Mandy Garner says:

            The Government guidance on childcare is that key workers can use nurseries, schools and registered childminders if they have no childcare, ie if they cannot keep their child at home.

  • Marie says:

    Hi I am considered a key worker as I am a 1:1 teaching assistant in a school (although the child I usually work with is not currently attending school). When schools shut almost 3 weeks ago I opted to stay home with my 6 year old as I was advised by Someone on 111 that although she’s not in the vulnerable category her history of chest infections and scarring on the lungs would be enough to recommend keeping her out of a school environment. My headteacher is now requesting to know when I will be able to put my name down on the rota and return to work. As a single mum I don’t have a partner to share care with and I really don’t want to send her to school and was wondering what the stance would be on me sending her to my sister a couple of days a week where nobody in the house is considered vulnerable or has any underlying health conditions.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The government guidance is to reduce social contact as much as possible so they would recommend using a school, but clearly you have been told by a health expert that this is a risk. If you cannot work because of childcare issues you can ask your employer to furlough you [see information in this article]. On informal care, the situation is not clear in your situation because you have to balance your child’s health against the guidance on childcare for key workers.

  • Shelley Lake says:

    Hi Im currently on furlough but my job is classed ‘essential work’. My mum is 56 with no underlying health conditions, would it be acceptable for my daughter to be looked after my mum (who has been in isolation for 3 weeks and lives on her own) or will I have to continue furlough for the foreseeable future? Thanks

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, is your mum in isolation because she has symptoms of coronavirus? Are you a key worker which means you should have access to childcare through your local authority? Furlough is for a minimum of three weeks. You do not say why you are on furlough – is it because of childcare or for some other reason? If you could send more information to mandy@workingmums.co.uk we can advise you better.

  • Grandparent says:

    Hi both my daughter and son-in-law are both key workers I’m 59 and look after my grandson Tuesday one week and Tuesday Wednesday following week have no health issues will it be ok to still have him

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, 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. It would depend on your daughter and son-in-law’s situation. As key workers, they 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, they 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.

      • Kelly says:

        Interesting to read your comment regarding this issue, which i find my self in the dilemma as we speak.
        My children go to my (young, non vulnerable) parents once a week. Both my husband and i are key workers. My husband has reduced his hours but still times when child care is needed. However i would rather send my children to my parents house, where i know where/who is there, than a local authority placement when i do not not know who is there, where they have been the day before etc.
        I guess its about being sensible and making individual decisions needed.

  • Laura says:

    Hi, my partner and I are both key workers. I am 39 weeks pregnant and my parter is working long hours working in a hospital. I have just commenced Mat leave and nursery have a place for my nearly 3 year old, should I continue to send her to nursery 2 days per week? This would help with childcare obviously when I go into labour and then also with having a newborn at home. My partner is also unsure if he will be able to take his full paternity leave due to his level of responsibility in his work.

  • Anon says:

    Hi
    I’m a single parent working in NHS. Are NHS staff able to be furloughed for dependant child care responsibilities if no alternative option following the updated Government advice on 4th April?

  • Chantelle says:

    My mum is our main childcare provider, my little one is 12 months and my mum is 45. We are both isolating other then me working, I am a key worker is this allowed?

  • Catherine says:

    Hi. I work in a care home for the elderly on 12 hour night shifts, I’m also a single parent and have a 5 year old son. He doesn’t see his father so I rely on my mam (his grandma) for all of my childcare while I’m at work. Now, as I am classed as a key worker I still have to go to work however my mam, who provides all of my childcare has been informed shes in the extremely high risk category and must go into lockdown for at least 12 weeks. This includes no face to face contact with people and shes not allowed to leave the house and shouldn’t be providing childcare. This leaves me with no childcare as there is nobody else that he can stay with and no matter how much I research I can not find any advice on this issue. Obviously school attendance isnt an option because I work from 7pm to 7am. Can you offer any advice or guidance on the situation? Any help I can claim or anything? Thanks

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Catherine, Have you tried ringing your local authority? They should be coordinating childcare – nurseries, schools, childminders, etc – for key workers. Ring their education department.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Catherine,
      The Government has just updated its advice on furlough and childcare. This is really important. It 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.

  • Anonymous bear says:

    I am due to return back to work from 9 months maternity leave.
    Both my partner and myself are keyworkers and nether of us can work from home due to what our job entails.
    Can you please advise whether there would be any way of not having to put an 8 month old baby into childcare whilst the pandemic is going on. It worries me that I would be putting her at triple the risk with the jobs we do and then a childminder on top.
    Many thanks

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      You will clearly need childcare in order to work so the only way would be to add your annual leave onto your maternity leave [or your partner could use annual leave too] or claim unpaid parental leave or time off for dependents if you do not want to use childcare [your partner can also do this]. The information on informal care, eg healthy grandparents under 70 is unclear.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi,
      The Government has just updated its advice here on furlough being used for childcare reasons. It may not apply to you, but you should speak to your employer. This is the updated guidance: “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.

  • Emily Wilson says:

    Hi, my husband is a key worker and I’m on furlough from work so am home looking after the 3 children who normally go to the childminder 2 days a week (all day 2 days a week for 1-year old and after school for 4 & 5 year old). We receive tax credits to cover 80% of our childcare. Our childminder is entitled to furlough. Should we inform child tax credits we can’t send our children to childcare in order for them to temporarily stop our tax credits or continue to pay our childminder to fulfil our contract instead of her having to apply for furlough?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      You should inform HMRC about any change to your circumstances. It will depend on your childminder’s contract whether you are obliged to continue paying fees. The Government is asking childcare providers to be reasonable and says it is guaranteeing early years assistance in the current circumstances.

  • Mark says:

    My wife is a child minder, we have our own son (12) and also foster 3 young children (3,4 &5) The 3 foster children are able to go to school as they have social workers but we have chosen to keep them home to isolate, the parent of one of the children my wife child minds for is a key worker, and has asked us to have there child next week, as much as we want to help, I’m concerned about a child coming into the house that we have been isolating in for the last 2 weeks, are we obliged to open ?

  • Daniela says:

    I am a single parent working for the NHS. I have a three year old daughter who’s nursery is closing from next week even to key workers’ children. I do not have any other help with childcare. The trust expects me to take my young daughter to a new childcare provider, but I’m finding this option very stressful. Changing childcare providers it’s not easy. Having to take her to a new environment, new staff and new child group, will put a lot of stress on my daughter and equally on me. She’s always found transitions very difficult. Can I be forced to do this?

  • Zoe Harrison says:

    Hi,

    Myself and my partner are both key workers and still have to go to work (he is full time and I am part time) and have always had my mum babysitting our two children on the days we are both at work. She is 59 and not vulnerable. Is she still ok to come and do this? Our children are 18 months and 3 years old… we do not use childcare as we cannot afford it.
    Many Thanks.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The Government advice on informal care mentions older grandparents and those at risk. It also talks about the need to reduce social contacts. Local authorities are coordinating childcare for key workers and the Government has directed parents to them, but we do know that some people are using informal care if they are no other solutions. We have asked for clarity on this several times.

  • Nad says:

    Our childminder has remained open to care for vulnerable and key workers’ children.
    Although a key worker, I am a teacher and can work from home, so we are not using her services for the duration of the confinement, following government guidance.
    She has sent us a letter asking for 50per cent of April and May fees as she is saying she cannot access any government funding as she is still open for business.
    The “contribution” is meant to enable us to “secure our child’s space”.
    is it correct that she cannot access any funding as she remains open, despite a clear loss of earning as most of the parents are now not using her services?
    We feel torn and blackmailed as she is our only childcare option for when things go back to normal (we are in a semi rural setting with no family network nearby).
    We would have happily topped up the 20p.cent of her loss income had she applied for the government 80pc scheme, but not feel really resentful.
    Any advice, and guidance on where she and we stand?
    Many thanks

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, It would depend on what is in your contract. She must be talking about the Job Retention Scheme, but that is for employees and I am assuming she is self employed so would qualify for the self employment scheme. This is what the Institute for Fiscal Studies says: “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provides income replacement for all employees but only where they completely stop working. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme offers support to just over 80% of those who get the majority of their income from self-employment – not all of them – but provides it regardless of how badly affected their business is.” The other issue is that the money will not start to be paid until June.

  • Claire says:

    Hi, I’m a single parent working 8 till 4, four days a week in a salad factory. As the orders have dropped due to covid they have shut our shift down. They’ve offered other shifts but school is only open 8 till 3:30. They are trying to find me a role that can fit those hours in for me. If they dont can I be furloughed as its this crisis that’s making it difficult with childcare?

  • Kelly Lewis says:

    Help please. I’m a key worker a nursing assistant in a&e. My partner works for Speedy Hire and we have 2 kids.

    Q: is my partner entitled to time off with 80% pay of he needs to stay at home and look after the kids while I go to work? His work are telling him if he does it will go down as “dependancy unpaid leave” is this correct?

  • Ann-Marie Okeke says:

    Hi, I was taking my 3 year old to nursery and qualifying for the 30 hours free funding before the Covid-19 hour break. Now that she is at home and I have to look after her and only work a few hours a day teaching online, I am worried that I won’t earn enough to qualify for the 30 free hours in Sept when the schools and nurseries reopen. What will the Government do because had it not been for this outbreak I would have earned enough to qualifiy for the 30 free hours funding.
    Thank you for advice

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The Government has said it will continue to cover agreed early years assistance for nurseries, including the 30 hours, during the period of the coronavirus crisis.

  • miam4 says:

    Hi there. My Husband and I are both Key Workers. My Mother (under 60 and not high risk) normally looks after my daughter when we are working – she has done this since my daughter was born. Right now I am working from home but my ability to work from home will be reduced when I run out of tasks. I want to clarify if my Mum can officially look after my daughter if I need to return to work.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, If you are able to work from home your employer should ensure you work from home. The issue of informal care is unclear – the latest position is stated in this article, but we know that people are still using grandparents if there is no other possibility. In the meantime, you should contact your local authority about childcare available in your area for key workers.

  • Deb says:

    I am a key worker and my husband is also. I have a 2yr old who attends a childminder, who is open to keyworkers. However, I am pregnant so am self isolating for 12 weeks whilst working from home As a keyworker.
    Should and can I still access the childminders services, or should I be keeping my child home due to being pregnant?

  • Francis carvel says:

    I’m a part time key worker, (teacher) and my husband works full time at the hospital. I have gone into work to look after key worker children, however I have to take my children in. I was told we had to come in and work, however unions are saying it’s only if you volunteer. I want to look after my children at home. I am the only one in school who has to take my children in. Where do I stand with this?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      This is the advice from Working Families: If you absolutely cannot work from home and your workplace has not yet shut, then you should continue going into work.

      If you are afraid of catching coronavirus, your employer may agree to let you take some leave so that you do not have to come into work. Your employer may be willing to agree for you to take annual leave, unpaid leave, unpaid parental leave, a sabbatical or other period of leave. You would need to check how long the leave could last and if the leave would be paid or unpaid. If you need further advice on what benefits you could claim during this time, we have a specific website page on financial support for families whose income is affected by coronavirus.

      But bear in mind that your employer has a duty to protect your health and safety. If you are pregnant, or you or one of your ‘dependants’ (family members like children who live with you and need you) have a pre-existing condition which would make you (or your dependants at home) very vulnerable to Coronavirus such as an auto-immune illness, you could argue that it would be a breach of your employment contract (more specifically a breach of the mutual duty of trust and confidence) to force you to come to work. If your illness means that you’re a disabled person your employer would be required to consider this as a ‘reasonable adjustment’ under the Equality Act 2010.

  • Becca says:

    Hi, I work for a private hospital and I work shifts. My childminder is having to self isolate due to health reasons and I’m having to put my child into a nursery. The only ones I can find are set hours 8-4. I have requested a set time at work however they seem reluctant to want to change my hours or even come to a solution to help. Can they sack me if I can’t find suitable child care?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      I am taking it that you are a key worker. Have you contacted your local authority about alternative childcare provision for key workers in this situation? The Government has asked that childcare provision be flexible. This is the Government advice on redundancy and childcare at this time: We would urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce – particularly when they have childcare responsibilities. Employers and employees should come to an agreement about these arrangements. If individuals need advice they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about in-work disputes.

  • Jane Doe says:

    I have received an NHS high risk letter advising me not to leave the house for 12 weeks. I am a key worker, working with vulnerable families. My husband is also a key worker. We have a 3 year old and have been found a temporary reduced hours nursery due to ours closing, the issue is due to husbands shifts I have to do most drop offs and pick ups. I am extremely nervous about putting my child into childcare as that places me at significantly higher risk. I am working from home at the minute but the level of sensitive work I do it is not appropriate to have telephone conversations while also watching my child, who is still at the age of needing constant supervision. I have had an unexpected telephone call from my GP wanting to confirm I had the letter. I’m worried that if I cannot work due to this I will not be eligible for my salary to be paid, and will he asked to take parental leave, however this is more about the additional risk towards myself by using childcare. Unfortunately both grandparents are in high risk or over 70 so they are unable to help. What can We do?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, Have you spoken to your employer about your situation – are the calls something you do all day or can you arrange them at times when your husband is around or your child is having a nap [I know this may not be at all easy to predict]? Could your employer reduce this aspect of your job or redeploy you to other work? Note that the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development says: Employees staying at home to look after young children are thought to be included in the furlough system in preference to being made redundant. Could this be a possibility for you?

  • Shelley-Ann says:

    Hi I am a single parent who is a key worker. I can work from home but finding it impossible to do the same hours with my 6 and 10 year old at home. Work have said I can drop my hours but will lose the pay which I can’t afford to do. My son has immune difficulties so cannot send him to school and we live with my 84 year old mother who I also care for. Feel really stuck! Thank you

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, At the moment there is little support for parents in your position, short of trying to convince employers of the challenges many are facing. It is extremely hard, if not impossible, to care for someone – and you are caring for three people – and work normal hours simultaneously. Could you ask for flexible working to work hours around childcare – later or earlier? Could you use some of your annual leave to give you a break? Working Families says the Government is also looking at changing benefit rules – see https://workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/coronavirus/

  • Hayley says:

    I have a childminder who is suppose to look after my 2 kids normally after school for a few hours whilst i am work. I am a key worker, but the childminder is NOT taking the kids, and luckily their father/older sister can mind them now whilst i still work. Normally if schools are closed, the 2 kids would still go to the childminder during the week, but not with everything going on at the minute. Am I still expected to pay the childminder even though she doesn’t have the kids? I don’t get anything to help with cost of childcare, kids are aged 7 & 10.

  • Sharon says:

    Hello. My nursery is charging a 25% retainer fee for the nxt 3 months while it is closed. My daughter is 2 and universal credit pays towards her nursery. Will universal credit pay for retainer fees in this instance?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The Government says early years assistance is continuing during the coronavirus pandemic, but we will double check this with HMRC.

    • Jess says:

      Hi I work in a supermarket and im a single parent really struggling for childcare for my 2 year old mostly but is it ok for a friend to have my children aged 2 & 8 as I work late shifts? And then I have hers whilst she works? Grandparents would usually have them but hey are in isolation for 12 weeks due to health issues

      • Mandy Garner

        Mandy Garner says:

        Hi, The Government advice on informal care mentions older grandparents and those at risk. It also talks about the need to reduce social contacts. Local authorities are coordinating childcare for key workers and the Government has directed parents to them, but we do know that some people are using informal care if they are no other solutions. We have asked for clarity on this several times.

  • Marie Starr says:

    I am a key worker and a lone parent. My nursery has started to limit the hours they can offer due to reduced staff so I am unable to do my hours at work and working from home is not an option. My work do not pay me if I am off. What options do I have left as I cannot afford to not be paid. Can someone other than the nursery look after my child?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The Govt advice on grandparents only seems to be about those over 70 or at risk. While it is trying to restrict social contacts it could be argued that getting key workers to work is the greater priority. Check with your local authority to see what they say.

      • Estelle Sones says:

        I am a due to end my maternity and i have two girls under 2. How do I work full time and look after the girls. Their dad is out all day as a keyworker so the responsibility lands with me.

        Can i ask to be furloughed and if i am will it have laternimplications on me? Also they may choose not to so mot to set a presedence to other mums

        My girls arenstill very much dependant and full time. I was due to have an aupaor come but for obvious reasons couldnt so i need to save my annual leave to find childcare and arrange this once this is all over

        Help please

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Hi, Have you spoken to your employer about your childcare issues and asked for advice? The guidance is unclear about whether the furlough scheme can be used for people who cannot work due to childcare. Some are saying they think it can’t eg Working Families and are seeking clarification and others are saying they think it can. Any request would have to go through your employer. The Govt advises people to use annual leave and unpaid parental leave if they cannot work, but that clearly won’t last long if people can afford it at all. The information on informal care is also not very clear.

  • Sara Ratcliffe says:

    Hi
    I’m a key worker in a care home, lm contracted for nights. My mother who is under 70 looks after my daughter overnight. I’m really worried about a) being stopped by the police and telling me l can’t take my daughter to her grandmothers and b) what my rights are with work if l can’t get childcare and should they be allowing some flexibility

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The Govt advice on grandparents only seems to be about those over 70 or at risk. While it is trying to restrict social contacts it could be argued that getting key workers to work is the greater priority. Check with your local authority to see what they say.

  • Pam says:

    I am a childminder who only looks after children before and after school and also have a part time job for a few hours during the day. I have not shut my setting but parents have chose to keep children at home even though 1 a key worker, one of the parents claims working tax credit for using my service, yet no one is using my service, should the parents pay me still if receiving working tax credits to pay me

  • Natalie says:

    Has there been any update about grandparents under the age of 70 with no health conditions looking after grandchildren while parent works yet please?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Natalie, I have added the DfE’s reply under informal childcare. I am still chasing them for total clarity on the grandparents issue.

      • Emma Booth says:

        Hi. I have my mum and mother in law who can look after my children while i work (i am a key worker for the police), i would rather they stay with them during the day. Both under 70 and both in good health. Thanks

      • A says:

        Hello- I hope I haven’t missed the reply but is there any clarity on this? My mum – under 60 yogi – who lives alone wants to help care for my son whilst I work from home but we don’t think it’s clear if that is permitted..

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Hi, I’m afraid no greater clarity than the statement we put in this article. The lack of clarity may be necessary to decrease social contacts as much as possible so people can look into any other possible alternatives.

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          You could check with your local authority’s education department to see what they suggest.

  • Francesco says:

    Hi,
    Me and my wife are both key workers. It was told us from the nursery they can take our 10 months old baby only if we go to work and not if we work from home even if we’re key workers. As you can imagine we cannot work from home and look after our son at the same time and we cannot take shifts and it would be more safe for everybody if we both stay at home to work rather than move to our work place while the nursery keep looking after our son.

    Thank you

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The advice is that if you can work from home you should and that if you can keep your child at home you should, but for many it is impossible to work and look after children. Have you contacted your local authority [education section] and asked about this – they are coordinating childcare and schools for key workers? Do you work in the NHS? We are highlighting a new childcare scheme for NHS workers on our home page today.

      • Francesco says:

        Thank you for your prompt reply!
        We don’t work from NHS, we read that if we “cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision“. And assume that, key workers working from home are not able to keep our 10 months baby safe at home. Local authorities said they should contact us for an alternative nursery but not clear if the nursery can officially/legally refuse to look after our child

        Thanks

  • Teri says:

    Hi. I am a keyworker for the NHS and my 1 year old attends the Nursery that is on site at my hospital. They have now decided to not allow children to attend the Nursery if there is one parent working from home. My husband is working from home but his company have informed him he will not get paid if he is looking after any dependent as he will not be able to fulfill his job role. Therefore one of us is going to have to take unpaid leave. Please advise if this is the ruling? As this now leaves us in a very difficult situation as will not get any help from the government financially.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The advice is that if you can work from home you should and that if you can keep your child at home you should, but for many it is impossible to work and look after children. Have you contacted your local authority [education section] and asked about this – they are coordinating childcare and schools for key workers? Do you work in the NHS? We are highlighting a new childcare scheme for NHS workers on our home page today.

  • Louise says:

    Both me and my partner are key workers and we use family to help with looking after our baby. Can we continue to take our baby to my mother in laws while we work? She is not in a high risk category and I do not want to use a nursery/childminder as it’s more a risk and too costly.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      We have not yet had a reply from the DfE despite chasing, but the Govt advice on grandparents only seems to be about those over 70 or at risk. While it is trying to restrict social contacts it could be argued that getting key workers to work is the greater priority. Check with your local authority to see what they say.

  • Toni says:

    Is there any further news on whether younger grandparents are OK to look after children if no other childcare available. If my son was to attend a school it would be an hour bus journey to get him there then an hour back to work and another 2 hour round trip to pick him up. Grandparent is under 70 and no health conditions

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      We have not yet had a reply from the DfE despite chasing, but the Govt advice on grandparents only seems to be about those over 70 or at risk. While it is trying to restrict social contacts it could be argued that getting key workers to work is the greater priority. Check with your local authority to see what they say.

  • De says:

    Hi I’m pregnant, baby is breech so have a c-section in 3 weeks. I have a 3yrs old and obviously need someone to look after him while I go to hospital. I asked my midwife if my mum could travel to stay with us and they advised against it saying to limit social contact and not have anyone in our home. Short of giving birth alone I can’t see another option!? Surely lots of women in the same situation. Any advice welcome as it’s not clear.

  • Sarah says:

    Hi I’m a nurse and both my mum and mother in law are key workers. They help me with childcare whilst I’m at work. Is it still ok for them to still look after my child ?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      We have not yet had a reply from the DfE despite chasing, but the Govt advice on grandparents only seems to be about those over 70 or at risk. While it is trying to restrict social contacts it could be argued that getting key workers to work is the greater priority. Check with your local authority to see what they say. There is childcare provided for key workers via the local authority and we have posted on a new free childcare scheme for NHS workers today on our home page.

      • Kerry says:

        No offence but kids in school can’t social distance ? Try telling kids that so being with a Grandparent at home is more safer in my opinion when people can do this !!

  • Mel says:

    Hey I am pregnant and I am a key worker working from home now. Can I still take my daughter to nursery as she is entitled to go. I drop her myself and I pick her up too.

  • RW says:

    Hi,
    I am a key worker, my childminder is refusing to look after key worker children as she doesnt want to put her family at risk. However she is still charing us 50% fees, and my son is 3 and eligible for 30 hours after easter. She has told me that the government arent funding new starters, and to save his space i must pay. However, i cannot work because she has closed (her own choice), where do I stand? I am not getting paid for dependents leave. Surely I dont have to pay if its her choice to close?
    Thanks.

  • Kate says:

    Hi, I am classed as a key worker in my job (postal worker) usually my child (almost 1yr Old) goes to my parents while I work. However my parents have been given the 12week vulnerable letter of the nhs. I can’t see any way of continuing to work – what are my options?

  • Rachel says:

    My sister is a nurse and a single parent and I am a qualified teacher but working from home am I allowed to look after my nephew to enable her to go to work?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The Government advice is to reduce social contacts and it bans grandparents over 70 and people who are at risk from babysitting children – see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures. If your sister needs to work she will need childcare and if she can’t afford to pay for it [she could contact her local authority about available childcare and explain her situation] then it is a matter of priorities and having her in work would seem to be the higher priority.

      • Nicola says:

        Hi

        I am a single parent and I have no one to help me. My son is 5 and I am a keyworker as a nurse. The school hub is no where near me the hours are terrible. I have a babysitter who is willing to help me which she usually does. The guidelines say u cannot go from house to house. The babysitter is young and healthy. His dad is in 12 weeks isolation and I don’t know that to do anymore. Alone parents who are keyworkers need more thought of.

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          You are correct. The guidance is unclear. It aims to reduce social contact as much as possible, but this is a question of priority. In a national emergency, every nurse is vital. Moreover, childminders are still able to operate for key workers children.

  • Simon says:

    Hello, both me and my partner are key workers I am in a supermarket and my wife in social care. My son is attending school but I need to reduce my hours down to be able to drop him off and pick him up. I have said to my workplace that I would be fine to take unpaid for the hours I don’t work and just be paid only for the hours I do, but my work have said that the only options I have is to timebank the hours and owe it back to them at a later date. I know this will not be possible to pay back as it could go on for months and I only get one day off in the week anyway so where do they expect me to find the time? I have told them this but they will not budge on this, is this allowed as I’m sure I can ask for unpaid leave as a parent?

  • Faye Sansom says:

    Hi IAM a key worker and my daughter gos to grandparents house twice a week so I can work is this ok? I don’t get out the car to pick up or drop off help please

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, The government advice is that grandparents over 70 or at risk should not look after grandchildren. The guidance does not cover younger grandparents, but the general aim is to restrict social contacts. You could ask for further information from your local authority who are coordinating childcare, but there is nothing covering younger grandparents specifically at the moment, as far as we know.

  • J southam says:

    Hi I am 61 years old and look after my granddaughter who is 2 while her parents both work I also have MS is it still ok to look after her?

  • Nicole Shreeve says:

    Hello. I am not key worker but I’m still having to pay for my sons April’s nursery bill.
    I currently get help with Universal credit towards my nursery bill and I was just wondering what happens cos my son isn’t attending nursery but I still have to pay so can I still get help with UC?
    Thank you for any help

  • Danielle says:

    I am full time single working mum. I am currently not using my childminder due to this virus.
    I get 15 Free hours I also get 70% help towards the rest of my childcare. I know the government are still going to carry on with payments as usual but am I expected to still pay the extra 30% even though the service is not being provided ? I live penny to penny and bills have gone up me being at home so I am going to struggle as I am on a very low income. Thank you x

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Danielle, It would depend on the contract you have with your childminder. You will need to negotiate with them about this if the contract states you have to pay in this kind of circumstance.

  • Confused says:

    I have a two year old and a one year old, my husband and I are both keyworkers who can work from home but my husband has a disability so cannot help with childcare. It’s impossible for me to work from home and look after the kids. My mum is in her 50s, can she still come to our house to help with childcare?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, This is a grey area. The Govt advice is to avoid social contact as much as possible and for older grandparents [over 70] or anyone with underlying health issues to not babysit for grandchildren. You could try and check with your local authority.

  • Ryanna says:

    Hi my childminder closed as of today with only 24hrs notice due to fear of catching Covid 19. In her contract it states no fee for when she is sick or absent. But lm a key worker and need emergency cover for childcare. I gave my 4 week notice for end of contract as l need childcare as l am a key worker. She nows say she wants 20 days paid holiday leave and 2 weeks sick leave. Or full pay of 400 a week

  • Ojuto says:

    Hello my husband and I are key-workers, my older daughter’s school is closed as all the children are home. What do we do now as both my husband and I need to work, and putting her in a childcare setting would incur costs we simply cannot afford

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Contact your local authority who are coordinating childcare. Are you on tax credits – you can find out more about your entitlement here – http://www.turn2us.org.uk? It has an online benefits calculator which will tell you what you are entitled to. Some benefits have been increased in light of the coronavirus. Do you work in healthcare as I know a new scheme is launching on Tuesday to get free childcare to NHS workers. We will put something up on this on Monday.

  • Amy Turner says:

    Hi, my husband and I are not key workers, but a close friend of mine has lost all of her work & income and has offered to mind my children so that we can return to work. I have no problems with the trust issue, it’s a moral issue. Should my friend (who has no underlying health conditions) be coming to our house to work? Is this the very situation that should not be happening? I totally understand why the schools and nurseries have closed down and am in agreement – I just don’t know whether I should take up my friends offer or not? Am I being selfish and taking too much of a risk?

  • Crystal Moles says:

    Can any advice if your child minder closes and you need to keep your place open, what you should do with child tax credits that pays for some of your
    childcare,

  • Jmc says:

    Hi, my husband & myself are both key workers! He works away for 2 weeks, we have a 2 year old who usually goes to his grandparents For childcare the weeks husband is away, they are both under 70, with no health conditions can he still go??

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      This is a grey area. The only thing the Government documents say is that older grandparents cannot look after grandchildren [ie people over 70 or in at risk groups]. We have asked whether younger grandparents would be okay to look after children and have not yet received an answer. The aim of the government advice is to reduce people’s contacts, but if you have no other means of looking after your children there may be nothing else you can do. You could ask your local authority who are coordinating childcare for key workers. We will update the site when we get a response from the Government.

      • Amy says:

        Hi, my little girl is only just 9 months and has never been anywhere but with family, or my mum who is under 50. She is working from home and is healthy, I work nights caring and my partner works Monday to Friday so I have been working weekends, however as an agency working there have been no shifts available for me doing Those hours, could my mum have my little one for a few hours if I work during the week? I don’t feel comfortable finding a nursery or child kinder for her while my mum is available and free.

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Hi, The Government advice on grandparents only mentions specifically that grandparents who are over 70 or have underlying health issues should not look after grandchildren. However, it also clearly aims to discourage contact between households as much as possible. The Government advice would be to go via your local authority for childcare [they are coordinating childcare for key workers] and you could claim tax credits to cover costs. We know, however, of key workers who have no other alternative who have asked family members to help. It would depend on the circumstances and whether you could argue it on the basis that getting a key worker to work is the priority. You could check with your local authority’s education department and let them know of your concerns.

  • Win Myint says:

    My husband and I are key workers, my daughter current nursery don’t open until further notice. Despite me and other mom’s requested to open, nursery refuse. They then sent us April invoice at 50% reduction. Not only they don’t provide service for key workers, they ask all parents to help to pay at 50% fee for April. I don’t want to pay for the service I don’t receive. If I don’t pay, I will lose the place and my deposit as 3 months notice is requested. What can I do at this?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      It will depend on your contract with your nursery, but the Government is asking nurseries to be understanding and they can access financial support from the Government if they are affected by the coronavirus. They would need to check out what they are entitled to. Key workers should have access to childcare, but some nurseries are closing due to lack of staff or children. You can contact your local authority for more advice as they are coordinating childcare.

      • Win Myint says:

        Thank you for your reply. As nursery can use excuse not to open to key workers due to lack of staff or other reasons, If i pay April month, they will then ask again for May and June, i will be paying for the service i don’t receive. looks like i need to lose my deposit in order not to continue paying for the service i don’t receive. How do you think?

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          It will depend on the contract you have. The Government is urging nurseries to be understanding and has put in place financial support if they have to lay workers off which they can access.

  • Louise spratt says:

    Hi my sister and I r both single parents and r still made to work. My mum is old and can’t have them due to the virus. R we ok to look after each other’s kids?. We also work together

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      This is a grey area that we are double checking on. The advice is to reduce social contacts and that no-one who is at risk should be looking after children.

  • Concerned says:

    Hi.
    I am a key worker and have been sending my son to school. The school closes at 5 and I don’t finish till 5.
    I have arranged with one of my friends that my son goes to hers straight after school, where I collect him.
    I do not get out of my car, n do not have contact with her. Do a socially distance wave.
    Is this OK?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      This is a very grey area. The Government advice is to reduce contacts as much as possible, but it is very difficult if school closes before key workers can pick up children. Schools are being asked to be flexible, however. Have you spoken to them about your situation?

  • Anonymous please says:

    What about the increased fees for key workers who don’t usually send children full time and have now lost grandparent childcare time. How can we work our nhs hours and more and pay these fees that are already out of our reach. We will face financial ruin for being the heroes of our country.

  • Jenr says:

    My childminder has closed down. I get my free hours and also have to pay a some money towards it. Do I inform HMRC that they are no longer attending?


Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Employment Rights Advice

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection

image

title

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now


You may be interested in these similar franchises