School closures: ‘Support working parents and expect disruption'

The CIPD is encouraging employers to adopt a flexible approach in support as thousands of parents face the first day of having their children at home and meeting work commitments.

Two girls helping each other study
All schools in the UK are officially closed to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic. With many parents already struggling to balance home and work responsibilities, the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, is calling on employers to be accommodating during the school shutdown.Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: “The Government’s decision to close schools will have a massive impact on working parents. Those that are able to work from home should continue to do so as far as they can.“However, this is an exceptional circumstance. Employers must accept that there will be disruption and that working parents will struggle to be a productive as normal.”

The long-term impact of COVID-19 on the labour market

With wellbeing a central issue in the school closedown, the CIPD is advising employees who are struggling or foresee childcare problems to speak to their line managers and HR teams to understand how they can best balance family and work commitments.The situation looks likely to remain for some time. This is leading to questions around how this will impact inclusion in the labour market in the long run; especially as many businesses have a daily changing situation as the wider economic impact of social distancing emerges.Flexibility needed now more than everFor now, “employers need to make allowances for this and take a flexible approach, especially for people with younger children who will inevitably need more care,” says Mr Cheese.“With many schools looking at remote teaching, parents will have to juggle their work with helping their children to access school activities.“There may be limited space and limited equipment to manage both parents and children working from home each day. There will be disruption.”

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