Kate Brooks
Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services
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Date Published:13 Jan 2021 Last Updated:16 Jan 2022

Can an Employer use furlough due to childcare issues?

Employment Law Advice

Can you use furlough due to childcare?

On 7th January 2021, the Government announced that during the period of national lockdown, schools, alternative provision, special schools, colleges, wraparound childcare and other out-of-school activities for children should allow only vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers to attend. All other pupils and students should learn remotely from home until at least February half term.

This has resulted in many parents having to balance work with their parenting commitments and home schooling. The Government has tried to assist by allowing households with a child aged under 14 years, to form a ‘childcare bubble’. This allows friends and family to provide informal childcare. Further information about ‘childcare bubbles’ can be found here.

Despite this, many parents still have to balance childcare responsibilities and home schooling with their work commitments. It is therefore important that employers are aware of the measures they can take to support their employees but also ensure the work is being completed.

Employers should consider the following:-

Flexible working

The employer may wish to agree a flexible working arrangement. It may be that the employee works varied hours in order to fit their work around the child’s schooling timetable. The employer may also be able to agree reduced hours or days, meaning the employee is paid for days worked and unpaid for days not worked.


If the above arrangement is not something that is achievable, then the employer may wish to furlough the employee, either on a full basis or flexi basis, meaning the employee is furloughed for the days he/she cannot work (i.e. the days he/she can’t obtain childcare).

An employer does have the choice to furlough an employee if they have caring responsibilities arising from the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic meaning that they are unable to work (including from home) or are working reduced hours.

The Government’s examples of caring responsibilities include caring for:

  1. Children who are at home as a result of school or childcare facilities closing; or
  2. A vulnerable individual in your household.

The furlough scheme is open until 30 April 2021 and the employer can claim 80% of the employee’s usual salary for hours not working, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Further information about the furlough scheme can be found in our blog here or the Government’s website.

We also explore further options for Employers in our recent blog which can be found here.

How can Ellis Jones assist you?

Our employment department is available to assist you with any employment related matter including navigation of the Government’s furlough scheme.

If you would like any advice or assistance, please contact our employment partner, Kate Brooks on 01202 525333 or email kate.brooks@ellisjones.co.uk.