As we know, there are no immediate plans to close the schools - however, for those with school-aged children - you will have noticed a distinct reduction of pupils. There have also been calls for action as teachers begin to self-isolate, leaving classes unsupervised, with the #Covid19walkout making it's rounds on Twitter - encouraging both students and teachers to self-isolate.
What are the plans with the schools?
As far as we know - confirmed by sources inside several schools in the Edinburgh district, both state and private - the schools are attempting to stay open until the Easter holidays. Which would be around the beginning of April, then they will close all the way through until the Autumn.
However, this could change rapidly dependent on the PM's ongoing announcements; we have also seen schools close completely when a student has been identified with COVID-19 as a protective measure.
What is the best way to handle the school closures?
Obviously, school closures will cause additional strain to your resource and so we're advising that you act sooner rather than later to get your employees on the same page.
All employees have access to 5 days of Emergency Family Leave, this will be the same for each parent. So, you can announce to your team that you expect the responsibility to be shared between parents - as we know we can see disproportionate caring responsibilities fall to the mother. This would give families the first 2 weeks covered under this leave policy - which also gives you time to adjust things.
Most companies have a procedure during the summer holidays to ensure resource, we advise putting this in place now. This may mean that employees have to begin rotating holiday earlier in the year, but with the effects of the virus anticipated to last well into the end of summer, it is unlikely we will see significant "summer holiday trips" this year.
Other options for reducing resource in an economical way if the schools close:
You could also look at short term contractual changes (see the related blog); staff rotation rotas - working one week on and one off, which allows employees who can't home-work the opportunity to earn a full weeks salary while keeping your resource levels reduced; or temporarily reduced salaries to prevent staff redundancies. This assumes your employees don't choose to self-isolate, which would activate SSP.
Finally, the big banks are offering "mortgage holidays" and landlords are being advised by the Residential Landlords Association to be as flexible as possible, with calls for the buy-to-let mortgages also being allowed the same "holidays".
This is all to support employees who are earning less during this period, so taking reasonable steps to balance out your "people" costs will reduce the risk of staff redundancies, while also not leave employees high and dry.