Guidance for staff with caring responsibilities

Extract from Brookes Communication from the VC - 20 March 2020

‘We understand that, in the coming weeks, staff who have any kind of caring responsibilities are going to need to balance their caring commitments with work.

We recognise that, for people who are otherwise able to work from home, it may become difficult to be available and commit to a full day's work. All we ask is that you do what you can, when you can, and we will truly appreciate any contribution you are able to make. You do not need to use your annual leave or any other kind of leave to deliver your caring responsibilities.'

Caring responsibilities

You may be caring for your children, elderly relatives or other dependants or even both children and other dependants and you may or may not have other adult support living with you at present. We understand that this extraordinary situation is a very difficult and anxious time, and your normal working routine has been up-ended.

As life working at home becomes the new normal, think about what you would like family life and work to look like in the coming weeks. For example:

  • What routine would best work for you and your family?
  • What are the immediate priorities for the children / dependants?
  • What are your work priorities right now?
  • What is essential to organise and what can wait?
  • What actions can you take to protect some restorative ‘me’ time?
  • What opportunities does this time present? Can your child/children take on responsibility for a house-hold job appropriate to their age?

Stay in regular touch with with your line manager

It is very important for you and your manager to stay in touch.

Individuals may need to change work routines and perhaps reduce the number of hours which they are able to work. Any such changes should be discussed and agreed with line managers. Please be assured that anyone in such circumstances will continue to receive full pay.

In discussion with your manager, establish work priorities to focus on and what can possibly be left until a later date. Depending on the nature of your work, discuss a realistic completion date. This will help to give focus and a sense of achievement. Even the best line managers are probably not mind-readers; if you need further support and help with your work please discuss with your manager if appropriate. If they are unable to help, they might be able to point you to other support functions/resources.

Accept that you may have good working days and not so good, especially if your child/children are having a fractious day - these are difficult circumstances for us all to live and work in. Remember, you do not have to be a star parent or star employee all of the time - you just do your best.

Encourage school age children to stick to their normal routine during term-time but take advice from their school and be prepared to be flexible to help you all cope

Where possible, make plans with your partner to divide the childcare, and stick to the plan.

The present circumstances may be even tougher, if you are a single parent with childcare responsibilities and you have no other adult living with you or your own established support network. Please do speak with your line manager and /or OH, HR, or other colleagues to ask for help if needed. Volunteers on our buddy scheme are also very willing to provide an informal listening ear.

Further advice