It is highly likely that a large number of schools will be on strike on Thursday 30/6/11 and on subsequent days because of the dispute between the public service unions and the government over the proposed changes to pension rights.
What is the situation when you have to take time off work because your child cannot attend school? Generally speaking any time taken off work without the employer’s explicit permission would be a breach of contract and may lead to some form disciplinary action.
However, the last government’s introduction of “family friendly policies” at work means the situation is covered under section 57A Employment Rights Act 1996 which allows employees to take a reasonable amount of time to deal with unexpected disruption of childcare arrangements in particular during a period when a school would normally have responsibility for that child.
Unfortunately for employers any disruption caused by the employee’s absence is irrelevant in determining whether the employee’s circumstances trigger this right. The employee must inform the employer as soon as possible about the reason for the absence and how long they would expect a period of absence to last. The situation regarding the strikes this week is to some extent fluid, although parents should have been informed by now whether the school will be closed or not.
It should be stressed that any time off allowed by the employer does not have to be paid.
If any employer requires advice on how to deal with this situation or if any employee suffer a detriment because of taking time off then they should not hesitate to contact the employment department lawyers at Hanne & Co on 020 7228 0017 or by email to Harry Dronfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Taylor at email@example.com