04 Jan 2021The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on employers to offer furlough to working parents affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) school closures. The TUC said that last minute decisions by ministers mean many working parents are now without childcare. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) allows employers to furlough parents who can't work due to a lack of childcare. The CJRS is available from a minimum of seven days – which would allow mums and dads to share childcare over the coming weeks – and can also be given on a part-time basis. However, the TUC is concerned that 'not all employers are aware that caring responsibilities are acceptable reasons to furlough', so many mums and dads will have no choice but to take unpaid time off work to care for their children. 'The health and safety of school staff, children and parents and the wider community must come first,' said Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC. 'With many schools closed, many families will be frantically trying to find a way to balance their work and childcare commitments. 'Without further action, many will have no choice but to cut their hours or take unpaid leave from work.'