Coronavirus: information and updates

Flexible working from home with children

Lots of parents are trying to work with children at home. Changing work hours, flexible work hours and a family timetable might make things easier. You can also take leave.

Flexible working hours

Flexible working can mean:

  • spreading your hours out over more days
  • working on different days

You could also ask to work your usual hours over fewer days. This is called ‘compressed hours’. For example, working 40 hours over 4 days instead of 5. Usually you cannot work more than an average of 48 hours a week.

Maximum weekly working hours (GOV.UK)

Anyone has the right to ask for flexible working.

For example, you could send an email saying:

“Now that I am homeschooling my children and working from home, I want to find out if I can arrange a flexible work schedule.

I am committed to maintaining the quality of my work and managing my workload. I've drafted a schedule that I think will let me do this and homeschool my children. I would like to work on this draft with you.

I will continue to stay in contact with the team and help meet our goals. Thank you for your support, and I look forward to discussing this.”

Reasonable adjustments

Flexible working can be a reasonable adjustment if you are disabled under the Equality Act. There is no set definition of 'reasonable'. It depends on your condition, your job and your organisation.

Asking for flexible or part-time working as a reasonable adjustment

Changing your work hours

You might be able to do some work before your children are awake or after they are in bed.

Timetables and routine

Visual or written timetables might help. You could include things like:

  • quality time
  • scheduled breaks, with and without your children
  • which of you is on 'parent duty', if you live with your partner
  • screen time, used in a way which works best for you and you child

Giving children limited choices can help sometimes. For example, choosing from a list of activities or which snack to have. 

Taking leave

The law says that if you are an employee, you have the right to unpaid 'time off for dependents'. It means you can take a 'reasonable' amount of time to look after a child in an emergency. This includes school being closed.

You could ask your employer about flexible working hours or normal annual leave.

Time off for family and dependents (GOV.UK)

Furlough and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

If you were furloughed before 10 June 2020, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) helps pay your wages.

You can be furloughed if you cannot work from home because your children are not at school. 

Employers can bring furloughed employees back to work part-time and still claim under the CJRS.

Employee rights and coronavirus

Schools reopening

Schools are following government guidance and run differently because of coronavirus.

All children must return to school unless they are self-isolating or were in contact with someone who has coronavirus.

Returning to school during coronavirus

What you need to know about schools during coronavirus (GOV.UK)

Warning If you’re in local lockdown

Rules may be different in your area.

Check GOV.UK


Call our helpline


You are protected by law against unfair treatment and dismissal if it's because of:

  • pregnancy
  • age
  • a health condition that means you are considered a disabled person under the Equality Act

What counts as disability (Citizens Advice)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 17/09/2020

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