To ensure front line staff in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) have access to essential childcare provision, employers are being urged to think critically about what staff are considered key workers.
The plea from the Scottish Government and COSLA comes as further guidance on key workers is published.
Before seeking childcare places, employers should consider:
• working with unions and workers to identify only those staff absolutely necessary to deliver the COVID-19 response and to provide essential and safe services
• introducing new shift patterns, working from home, recruiting more staff or dropping non-essential tasks
• having discussions with staff to identify if they can access any appropriate alternative childcare. This may include another parent or carer who is not a key worker
Deputy First Minister John Swinney (pictured) said:
“We all have a vitally important role to play in the fight against COVID-19.
“For some that will involve a front-line role in a hospital, but for others, staying at home to care for your children will also help to save lives.
“Where children are unable to safely stay at home, including vulnerable children, local authorities are providing childcare.
“However, only key workers who cannot fulfil their critical functions when they are working remotely from home may qualify for critical childcare provision.
“The number of children taking up these places must be kept to an absolute minimum.
“The priority must be for children of the most critical key workers and for the most vulnerable children in our society.
“I would urge employers to look at the guidance and consider if there is any way they can provide their essential services in a way that enables children to stay at home.”
Alison Evison, President of COSLA, said:
“We recognise the extreme pressures faced by all businesses and employers at this very difficult time.
“Our priority is to ensure that vital services continue as far as possible.
“Local authorities have worked tirelessly to ensure that there is provision available for the children of key workers in an extremely tight timescale.
“However, our capacity to do so needs to be established in line with public health advice.
“The safety of our children, young people and staff is paramount.
‘This guidance is aimed at making sure we all work together to get through this crisis while trying to minimise the impact on our society and economy.”