If a child is sent home from school, how does this affect the workplace?

At the moment, a lack of clarity has made it confusing for employers to advise employees who are parents as to what they should do if their child is told to stay at home because of Covid-19 concerns at their school.

In several cases, advice provided by schools has contradicted the latest guidance offered by the Government. This has led to much uncertainty as to whether employees should be told to stay at home or whether they should still continue to work and, if so, what pay they are entitled to, if any.

Sharing a household with a child who doesn’t have symptoms, who has come into contact with a Covid-positive individual at school and has been told to self-isolate in accordance with Test and Trace provisions, is not included in the scenarios where an employee is entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP). Alternatives would have to be considered, such as taking unpaid leave or holiday.

In the eyes of the Government, this may also be classified as “time off for family and dependants” during which an employee can apply for unpaid leave. However, there is another scenario that could entitle an employee to full pay: if the individual wishes to attend their workplace and is ready and willing to work but the employer forbids them from doing so on a precautionary basis, this could be categorised as a suspension from work on health and safety grounds. Generally, this would be on full pay, although there may be contractual provisions that allow the individual to be suspended without pay.

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