My Employee is refusing to return to work, because their child’s school is not yet open. Surely that’s not my problem is it?
The government has been extremely vague about this but says it expects employers to be “reasonable”.
The reality is, until working parents can utilise the childcare arrangements available to them pre-lockdown, they won’t be able to return to work.
But surely I’m the boss?
Yes, you are. But there is little point in insisting someone returns to work if they can’t and if you do this you’ll undermine the implied duty of trust of confidence between you and your employee. They may, resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal. They may also be able to bring a discrimination claim against you.
So what’s the answer?
Talk to your Employee to understand the options. Can they work from home? Can they return part-time if their partner is able to share the childcare responsibilities? If these aren’t possible, you may need to furlough them or possibly consider unpaid parental leave but this may add more financial stress on your Employee.
So that’s it, I have to talk to my Employees to understand their individual circumstances and then decide what works best for them and the business?’.
‘Yes, you got it. Communication is key’.