Many parents may be wondering what they will do on Thursday.
With schools likely to be closed due to a strike by teachers, many families may be hustling to arrange supervision for their children.
So, if it’s a day that you’re meant to work, what are your rights to ask for leave?
Employment lawyer David Burton said the starting point would need to be your statutory entitlements.
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“The employee will usually have accrued some annual leave that the employee could request to take so that they can look after their child. The employee is also likely to have sick leave accrued, but this is unlikely to be applicable unless the child or parent is sick on the day of the strike,” he said.
He said the only legal obligation that employers had to comply with was to listen to any request for leave in good faith.
“It would be a harsh employer that required an employee to come to work when the employee needs to stay home to look after their child. If the employer denied a request for an employee to stay home to care for a child and if the employer tried to take disciplinary action against the employee, the employer may have some difficulty with that.
“Of course, the situation would be different if the employee simply decided to stay at home without communicating with the employer well in advance. Then the employer may be justified in taking disciplinary action.”
Alison Maelzer, an employment lawyer at Hesketh Henry, agreed employers and employees should be communicating about the issue and trying to come up with a solution that worked for both of them.
“From a strict legal perspective, there is no obligation on employers to give employees the day off to look after kids who are unable to go to school.
“If the employee does not have any annual leave, the parties might agree that the employee will take a day of unpaid leave, or the employer might agree to give a day of ex gratia paid leave. There may also be the option to agree on some combination of those things – e.g. half a day of annual leave/half a day unpaid or paid leave.”
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