Should You Allow Kids at Work During the Teacher Strike?
The teacher’s strike starts today and is set to continue for ten days. The strike is causing huge waves across the country, affecting millions of pupils. This means that millions of employed adults are likely to be affected too.
So, should you allow employees to bring their children to work during teacher strikes? And if not, what alternative options should your HR department consider offering to employees with dependents?
Keep reading for the positives and negatives of allowing employees to bring their children to work during this teacher strike and any future crisis.
Positives of Allowing Employees to Bring their Children to Work
Giving your employees the option to bring their kids to work can make a genuine difference in their lives during the school strike. Here are several of the potential positives of allowing employees to bring their children to work in a tumultuous time:
- Increased job satisfaction: Making allowances for parents whose children will be affected can increase job satisfaction and reduce stress for working parents. This can also lead to increased employee retention.
- Enhanced family-friendly reputation: Companies that allow employees to bring their children to work in a crisis may be perceived as family-friendly and supportive. This can be positive for your business image, and it may also attract talent, as companies who are compassionate to their employees are very desirable.
- Increased productivity: In some cases, having children in the workplace can lead to increased productivity, as employees may be more motivated to get their work done in order to spend time with their children.
Negatives of Allowing Employees to Bring their Children to Work
Unfortunately, allowing employees to bring their children to work is not all positive. There are a number of cons that should be considered before you decide what your organisation’s policy should be. Here are the possible negative consequences of allowing kids in the workplace:
- Children can be distracting: Both the parent and other employees can be distracted by children as they play or chat, which can negatively impact productivity.
- Increased safety risks: Having children in the workplace increases the potential for accidents and injuries for both children and employees, as they tend to be unpredictable and aren’t aware of your workplace’s health and safety policy.
- Potentially unprofessional image: Having children in the workplace may create an unprofessional image for the company, which could negatively impact business relationships. However, allowing employees to bring their children to work during a crisis may also positively affect your image.
- Increased responsibility for the company: Allowing children in the workplace increases the company’s liability in case of any accidents or injuries to the children.
- Potential for workplace conflict: Not everyone loves kids, and some employees may object to the presence of children in the workplace, leading to a potentially hostile work environment.
It is also important to keep in mind that not every workspace is appropriate for children. If you work in construction, for example, children might pose a serious safety risk, and an alternative plan should be made.
Alternative Options during Teachers’ Strike
If you decide that the possible negative ramifications outweigh the positives, a few alternative options are available. Below we will look at the best alternative options.
Allowing for flexible work
Allowing the parents in your organisation to work from home during this time (and in other emergencies) may have many benefits. It will enable employees to keep working while taking care of their dependents. Providing the option of flexible working positions your organisation as sensitive to the needs of your staff, which in turn can result in improved employee morale and satisfaction.
This option also allows your company to avoid any of the negative possibilities of having children in the workplace.
Providing time off
If an employee’s child’s school closes due to the strike, they are entitled to dependant leave. This allows for reasonable time off work to address unexpected issues or emergencies such as this.
Additionally, parental leave, which provides up to 18 weeks of time off before a child’s 18th birthday, is available for those who have worked for their employer for at least one year. Employers have the option to limit this leave to four weeks per year.
As an employer (or HR staff who deals with employees), you cannot deny the use of dependant or parental leave. However, payment for this time off is at your discretion, as it is not legally required.