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Back to School: How to Support Employees with Children


As children head back to school this month, parents will be organizing their routines around school schedules. It is likely that some employees with children may request coming into work a little late or leaving a little early to pick up their kids from school. You may also see an increase in requests for remote work or employee absences due to child sickness.

To help employees adjust to back-to-school routines and ensure they are not distracted by their childcare responsibilities, employers must be proactive in creating relevant policies and procedures to support their staff at work.

How can I support staff with children adjust to back-to-school routines?

Offer flexible work

Flexible working hours or the option to work from home (whether full-time or a few days per week) is now a benefit sought by most job seekers. The 2021 Hays Salary Guide reported that the option to work remotely was cited as one of the “most desired benefits” by employees.

Flexible working is especially beneficial for parents and employees with caregiving responsibilities. If the nature of your business or certain roles in your company allow for flexible work, it is recommended that you offer it.

But you must have a policy in place to list the criteria for accommodating a remote/flexible working request. If you allow certain employees but not others to work remote or flexible shifts without good reason, you may expose yourself to discrimination claims.

Update your leave policies

Although public health restrictions have lifted, COVID-19 is still around. The school season also coincides with the start of the flu season. With schools reopening for in-person learning, it is likely that your employees may need to take time off to care for a sick child or get sick themselves. Ensure you update your leave policies in accordance with your provincial employment standards legislation. For instance, employees in Ontario can avail of up to three days of paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) until March 31, 2023.

Effective January 1, 2022, all BC employees covered by the BC Employment Standards Act are entitled to a minimum of five paid sick leave days per year (in addition to three days of unpaid sick leave) if they need to stay home due to an illness or injury.

Ensure your staff is aware of your leave policies and their leave entitlements, such as sick leave and family responsibility leave. Advise your employees to use their sick leave and stay at home if they experience flu or COVID symptoms. Encourage your staff to fully recover before returning to work.

Have a policy on disconnecting from work

A right to disconnect policy encourages a work-life balance and is beneficial to both employers and employees. Employees who have the right to disconnect from work may be able to spend more quality time with family and friends, finish household chores, or just be able to relax and unwind after a hectic day.

For employers, the right to disconnect may result in happier and more productive staff. This may improve employee retention levels, and boost employee morale as well.

Although Ontario is the only province at present that requires provincially regulated employers with 25 or more employees to implement a right to disconnect policy at their workplace, it is a good practice that employers in other provinces could also adopt.

Do you need help creating HR and health & safety policies for your workplace?

Whether you need to draft a remote work policy or update your employment contracts, we’ve got you covered. Peninsula’s experts can help you develop company policies, and with any other HR, health and safety and employee management matters that may arise.

To learn more about how Peninsula’s services can support your business, call an expert today at (1) 833-247-3652.