Many schools across Canada finally re-opened in September, leaving most employees who have school-aged children stressed. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, 74% of parents were very or extremely concerned about balancing childcare, school, and work. With disruptions to the school year still possible, employers may find themselves having to make difficult decisions.
Some parents need to work from home and assist in following the curriculum remotely, others want to send their children back full-time, and some are considering leaving the workforce altogether to homeschool. Parents need to adapt to changing situations quickly, whether that means working from home part-time or leaving suddenly in case of an outbreak. It’s important that employees know what they can expect from their employers.
In most cases, employees who choose to homeschool their children while schools are open can be deemed to have abandoned their positions unless they reach an agreement otherwise with their employer. Employers can grant a leave of absence, for example, but they don’t have to. Some options employers and employees might discuss can be found in one of our recent blogposts: Homeschool or Work? Maybe You Don’t Have to Choose. Employees who need to support their children don’t necessarily have to quit work, and employers shouldn’t presume it’s the only option, either.
By checking in with your workforce and determining their needs, you can better evaluate how to handle this unexpected fallout caused by COVID-19. This might mean some employees resign, or that they abandon their job. Of course, this outcome would be disruptive for everyone, so both parties have a good reason to work together to avoid it, but employees and employers need to recognize the possibility and prepare for it. Be clear-eyed about the employee’s obligation to work while being flexible where you can. Want to know more about how this might look in practice? Download our FREE School Disruption Accommodation Guide for a walkthrough of how to handle these requests if they come up.
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