Parents should be able to ask their bosses to be furloughed if they need to look after and home school their children during lockdown, Downing Street has said.
Boris Johnson’s press secretary Allegra Stratton said employers should take “seriously” any request from parents to stop working and have 80% of their wages paid by the government.
It came after Labour leader Keir Starmer said single working parents should have the right to request flexible paid furlough from their employers if they are struggling to juggle childcare and work with schools closed during lockdown.
The coronavirus job retention scheme, or furlough, has been extended until April 30.
It allows employers to claim 80% of an employee’s salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
No.10 said parents should be able to ask to be furloughed if they are struggling with home schooling and working at the same time.
“Families out there who right now, they have children, perhaps today is the first day of home schooling, or certainly this week,” she said.
“If they feel that they need to ask employers to be furloughed so that they can home school – that is there right now, they can ask for that and (it) should be taken seriously.”
Earlier, Starmer said the latest lockdown, which is scheduled to last until at least mid-February, means parents “have been left once again to juggle childcare and work”.
He said those who cannot work from home and have no partner to rely on must get an “immediate” right to request a paid flexible furlough deal from their boss.
The prime minister has said he would like to vaccinate the 13.8m people most vulnerable to Covid-19 before considering reopening schools after the February half-term.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to deliver an economic update to the Commons on Monday afternoon.