Due to closure of schools and childcare facilities, employers have seen a rise in employees who do not want to or will not be able to attend work due to child care requirements. Flexibility and proactive engagement with employees is important when approaching public health situations, particularly where it is not possible for the employees to work from home. The current situation is not restricted to individual employees or workplaces.

Employers should listen to concerns of employees and explore all reasonable and practical solutions.

Employers may be able to offer flexible working arrangements or agree with employees that they take annual leave or unpaid leave. Some employees may look to commence maternity leave early or take parental leave or other forms of leave. All requests should be looked at reasonably, particularly in light of the latest Government measures to close schools, colleges and childcare facilities

While an employer does have a duty of care to provide a safe place to work, a refusal to work by an employee without a valid reason, could lead to withdrawal of pay or disciplinary measures.