RSS Feed

Legal Updates

More Articles: Latest Popular Archives

How employers can help employees with children during teachers’ strikes

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead Burton

CIPD has published suggestions on how employers can respond to the teachers’ strikes. On 1 February 2023, 85% of schools in England and Wales were either fully or partially closed, with more than 100,000 teachers on strike. In Scotland, teachers started 16 days of industrial action across 32 local authority areas in the middle of January 2023. Term-time school closures cause considerable problems for organisations with working parents, most of whom have already endured months of juggling home-schooling and work during the pandemic.

Employees with at least one year’s service are entitled to up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave for each of their children below the age of 18. The law requires the leave to be taken as whole weeks rather than individual days, up to a limit of four weeks in any one year for each child. Employees must give their employers 21 days’ notice of starting the leave, specifying the length of leave they wish to take.

Organisations can decide to enhance any statutory entitlement – the law only specifies minimums and maximums – and as public sector strikes look set to continue, employers should review their existing policies on parents of school-age children taking leave. For example, they may wish to consider:

  • adding strike action in schools to accepted reasons for parents taking time off
  • allowing parents coping with additional school closures to take more than the specified four days’ unpaid leave a year
  • allowing parents with less than a year’s service to take unpaid leave
  • allowing parents to use paid annual leave to cover their time off during strike days
  • creating more flexibility over when and where parents work on strike days.

Receive more HR related news and content with our monthly Enewsletter (Ebrief)