STRESSED mums and dads juggling working from home with childcare can ask bosses to furlough them instead.The new schools shutdown is seeing millions o
STRESSED mums and dads juggling working from home with childcare can ask bosses to furlough them instead.
The new schools shutdown is seeing millions of parents tearing their hair out as they combine homeschooling with work and Zoom videocalls.
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Twitter user A Christmas Carole, a mum from Cambs, tweeted: “I can only do half a job as a worker and a parent.
“Previous lockdowns had a massive bad effect on my mental health and I’m only just recovering.”
Nasticsgym1, a dad of two, wrote: “No thought about homeschooling has been given to parents. It’s even worse when one parent is a key worker and out all day and you have to manage both kids by yourself.”
But many people do not know that Government rules say childcare is enough reason for employers to furlough staff, giving them 80 per cent of their wages.
The latest furlough scheme runs until the end of April and more than seven million workers are expected to be furloughed.
So here’s how to make the most of your rights under the job protection scheme.
I CAN’T work from home now that schools are closed and my kids are home too. Is that a good enough reason to be furloughed by my boss?
Yes — just ask your employer to furlough you.
What if my manager says no?
Ask for part-time furlough. For example, barmaid Betty asks for furlough for three days to look after her two kids, and hubby builder Bob asks for furlough for the other two days to do the rest of the week’s childcare.
Betty normally earns £500 for a five-day week, so is paid £200 for the two days she works serving up pub takeaway food, and £240 as 80 per cent of her usual wage for the three furloughed days, giving her £440 per week.
Bob usually takes home £750 for a five-day week, so receives £450 for the three days worked and £240 for the two furlough days, meaning £690 a week.
Any other options?
Ask your boss if you can work flexible hours, for example in the evenings or weekends.
If you can afford it, you could ask your employer to give you unpaid parental leave.
I am employed by a very small company and I have a zero hours contract. Do I qualify for furlough?
Yes — every employer qualifies, no matter their size, and in every part of the UK, and if they have not used the furlough scheme before.
All contracts qualify, including zero hours and agency workers. You get 80 per cent of your usual pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
I’ve just left my job and am unemployed. I can’t receive any furlough pay, right?
Wrong. if you left your job after September 23, your old employer can re-employ you and furlough you. Call up your former boss and ask nicely.
I started a new job in December but my employer refuses to furlough me, is he wrong?
No — you had to be working for the company on October 30 to qualify.
Three million Brits, including limited company directors who pay themselves dividends, do not qualify for furlough.
Emma Lee, from London, tweeted: “I was made redundant in September. I’ve started a new job yet do not qualify for furlough. I’m excluded from support.”
My manager is worried about taking me off furlough in case business goes quiet. Could I be put on furlough for a second or third time?
Yes — you can be furloughed multiple times, as is happening to shop workers.
I’ve been advised to shield, do I qualify for furlough?
Yes — the Government says it is a good enough reason.
Does my annual leave stop building up while I’m furloughed?
No — you still earn your holidays.
I’m expecting a baby. Do I get maternity pay if furloughed?
Good news — yes, you do.
I’m worried I might get sacked. Does being on furlough mean I would not get redundancy pay?
No — you get it, and your employer must give you the paid notice period as specified in your contract. This is often a month.
My employer is not following the furlough rules. What should I do?
Ruby Dinsmore, employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, says: “Raise your concerns with your manager and see if you can agree a way forward.
“If you feel uncomfortable approaching your manager or are struggling to come to an agreement, speak to HR, and if no agreement is reached, consider raising a formal complaint.”
BT data lifeline for kids in need
TELECOM firm BT is throwing a lifeline to internet-deprived children to help them learn remotely during lockdown and ensure they do not fall behind.
Hard-up parents can claim unlimited data for their kids, instead of the 20GB previously offered. For those who are not mobile phone customers, BT is offering free wifi vouchers.
It is also planning to “zero-rate” some educational websites by the end of the month, so that children and parents accessing them will not use mobile data.
BT, which owns BT Mobile and EE, is one of a number of network operators backing the Department for Education’s Get Help With Technology programme to come to the rescue of disadvantaged pupils during the pandemic.
Marc Allera, boss of BT’s consumer division, said: “As a national champion, we want to ensure no one is left behind while face-to-face teaching is on hold.
“That’s why we’re launching our Lockdown Learning support scheme, which offers a number of different ways for disad-vantaged schoolchildren to get connect-ivity support, across both our fixed and mobile networks.
“We’ve been working with the Depart-ment for Education since the start of the pandemic to get kids connected, and we’re now stepping up our partnership to offer unlimited data, as well as working harder on getting free wifi passes into the hands of those families and kids that need them.
“We’re also aiming to zero-rate some of the most popular learning portals this month, to ensure critical learning can continue even when data access runs out. We will reveal more on this during the coming week.”
So, here is more about what BT is offering . . .
Unlimited data: This can be accessed by applying through a school, and will enable children to access any online educational resources they need. For further details, and teacher application portal, go to get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk.
Free wifi vouchers: BT has pledged to distribute these directly to schools, and charity partners, allowing those families and carers with little or no connection to access the five million BT wifi hotspots across the UK. See businessdirect.bt.com/learning-in-lockdown.
Zero-rating educational websites: BT will also aim to remove all mobile data charges for some of the most popular educational websites before the end of this month, while schools remain closed.
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HERE’S how other telecom firms are aiding needy kids.
- O2, with charity Hubbub, has expanded its plan to get the vulnerable connected. It hopes to give 10,000 unused devices and 12 months of free connectivity to people in the UK’s most deprived areas.
- Three is providing unlimited data upgrades to disadvantaged pupils in England via the Department for Education programme.
- Vodafone’s schools.connected initiative has given 350,000 data SIMs to more than 9,000 schools and colleges. Its Great British Tech Appeal asks the public, and firms, to donate unwanted devices, then it adds connectivity and distributes them via charities.
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