Nurseries and Childcare FAQ

Nurseries and Childcare FAQs regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

NURSERIES & CHILD CARE 

Should I engage with the risk assessment process? 

Voice is encouraging members to engage in the risk assessment process so that you are having your opinions heard and your concerns addressed. You are entitled to see a risk assessment and although your employer doesn’t have to produce a risk assessment for each individual employee, they do need to identify the ‘at risk’ groups and individuals (including BAME) and this may mean they need to produce individual risk assessments for those impacted to ensure their health and safety. 

Since you know your workplace best, you are the most appropriate person to know if the risks identified are being addressed, however, Voice has produced a risk assessment checklist, which although not exhaustive, may help guide you on what you should be looking for.  

What should we be teaching?  We can’t use half of our resources and haven’t got enough staff to record the children's learning? 

In April 2020, the Government temporarily disapplied and modified certain elements of the EYFS statutory framework for those early years providers who remain open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.   

The temporary changes include: 

  • Providers are not required to meet existing learning and development requirements, but instead should use reasonable endeavours to meet them during the COVID-19 period. 
  • Providers are not required to undertake the EYFS profile assessment in 2019/20 academic year, and accordingly local authorities are not required to collect or moderate data on this. 
  • Providers are not required to undertake the 2 year progress check during the coronavirus (COVID-19) period. 
  • Exceptions are allowed to the qualifications that staff hold in order to be counted in ratio requirements. 
  • Requirements around paediatric first aid (where children aged 2-5 years old are on-site). For those caring for children aged 2-5, providers must use their ‘best endeavours’ to ensure one person with a full PFA certificate is on-site at all times when children are present. If after using best endeavours they are still unable to secure a member of staff with PFA to be on site then they must carry out a written risk assessment and ensure that someone with a current First Aid at Work or emergency PFA certification is on site at all times children are on premises. 
  • There is no longer the requirement for new entrants to hold PFA certification to count in ratios during this period.   

But the rest of the EYFS remains in place and please be aware that the requirement to have someone with full PFA certification on-site remains in place where children aged 0-24 months are on-site, due to the higher safety factors for babies and children in this youngest age bracket. 

Can early years providers take groups of children to outdoor public places, for example if there is not private outdoor space in the setting? 

Settings should maximise use of private outdoor space, while keeping small groups of children and staff away from other groups. Childminders and early years providers may take small groups of children to outdoor public spaces, for example parks, provided that a risk assessment demonstrates that they can stay 2m away from other people at all times. This should be restricted to small groups and should be done in line with wider government guidelines on the number of people who can meet in outdoor public places. Providers should not take larger groups of children to public outdoor spaces at one time. 

What about childminders? 

It's an incredibly difficult situation for people providing childcare. Like all early years providers, childminders were advised to close and could only remain open if they were caring for vulnerable children or the children of critical workers.  

From 1 June, childminders can reopen to look after children of all ages. This is in line with your current Ofsted registration, and within usual limits on the number of children you care for.  

Be particularly careful as you will be welcoming people into your own home.  You may wish to consider limiting the number of rooms your children use and must ensure all equipment is thoroughly cleaned every day. 

During the day, if you think a child is becoming unwell, you should take their temperature. if you're anxious about it they must be isolated in a separate room from the other children until they're picked up. And open windows for extra ventilation. 

Please also see our advice on financial support for those experiencing difficulties at this time. 

I am a nanny. Can I still go to work? 

On 1 May 2020 the government provided specific guidance in relation to travelling to someone else's home to provide paid-for childcare.  

If you provide paid-for childcare in a child’s home, you can go to your place of work. However, it is important that you take as many precautions as possible in line with Public Health England guidance, such as walking and cycling to work, or wearing a face covering when using public transport.  

If you do not feel safe or comfortable continuing to work, you should speak to your employer. You can be furloughed under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which provides up to 80% of your salary, up to £2500 per month. Your employer can voluntarily choose to top this amount up to 100% of the salary if they wish.  

No nanny should be forced to continue to work if they do not feel safe to do so. 

Can my employer expect me to come to work? 

If you are resident with the family you work for, then you can continue to work as previously.   

Your employer has a duty of care towards you and must take all reasonable steps to ensure your safety.  This could include providing you with additional soap and hand gel or protective clothing (such as a uniform or tunic) that can be washed daily.   

If you are not resident with the family. But the parents are critical workers then it is reasonable for you to continue to work as long as suitable steps are put in place to protect you. 

If you are not resident, and the parents are working from home, it may not be appropriate for them to be welcoming visitors into their home unnecessarily and you will need to discuss this and what steps will be taken to ensure both your own, and their safety whilst you are on site.   

If you are happy with the arrangements to ensure everyone will be safe, then government advice is that you can return to work. 

During this unprecedented time, it is vital you have our support and services available to you. Your membership remains valid and your workplace insurance will continue to cover you.  But if you have any questions then please call our membership line on 01332 378 008. 

What steps can Nannies take to protect themselves? 

Just because you work in someone’s home does not mean they do not have a duty of care towards you.  In the same way as other employers you should discuss, identify and address any particular risks within your workplace.  This is the basis of a risk assessment. 

Things you may wish to consider include: 

  • Travel arrangements – how do you get to work?  If it is necessary to transport the children in your care how will you do this safely? 
  • Equipment – Can the things you use be easily and effectively cleaned? 
  • Food preparation & serving. 
  • Intimate care for infants. 
  • Arrangements for if someone becomes symptomatic with Covid-19. 

What if I don’t feel it is safe to return to the nursery? 

It is expected that all staff will return to nurseries and pre-schools by September – including those who had been previously clinically extremely vulnerable. 

We advise all staff to engage fully with risk assessments, and it is a good idea for you to have a personal risk assessment to address any particular concerns, conditions or requirements you may have. This is especially important if you have been categorised as vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, you are pregnant, or you are from a BAME background. 

However, if after having engaged with the risk assessment process, you still do not feel it is safe to return to your workplace, then please call us on 01332 372337 and our duty officer will be happy to help you with this issue.  

There is legal protection which can support you if you are required to work in situations which are unsafe, and no actions have been taken by your employer to mitigate against and reduce those risks.  However, you must seek advice from Voice on 01332 372337 before you consider taking any action. 

  • Section 44 of The Employment Rights Act 1996 allows for an employee to leave work and/or refuse to return if there is “serious and imminent danger”, without the risk of “detriment of any act”. This is not industrial action as this is set in law.   
  • Section 100 of The Employment Rights Act 1996 provides protections if you are dismissed because: 
  1. you bring health and safety risks to the attention of your employer;
  2. you are designated to take action to reduce risks; 
  3. in circumstances of danger which you reasonably believed to be serious and imminent and which you could not reasonably have been expected to avert, you left (or proposed to leave) or (while the danger persisted) refused to return to your place of work or any dangerous part of his place of work; or 
  4. you took (or proposed to take) appropriate steps to protect yourself and your colleagues from the danger. 

What if I am experiencing childcare issues? 

The government has, on numerous occasions, expressed the importance of employers being flexible as workplaces across the country begin to reopen. On the 3rd June, in the daily Coronavirus briefing, Boris Johnson said that employers would need to be flexible if employees were experiencing childcare issues as a result of schools/nurseries being closed. As our members are key workers, you should be able to access local provision but if, for some reason, you cannot, then you should ask your employer to be flexible around your return to the workplace. 

If, after discussing this with your employer, you feel you need support, then please call Voice on 01332 372 337

What about Maternity/Parental Leave? 

Whether you are just starting maternity leave, currently on leave or are about to return to work, your rights are unchanged.   

  • Due to go on maternity leave? Ensure you have submitted your Mat B1 form and you are entitled to your maternity pay in the usual way. 
  • Currently furloughed?  Once you begin maternity leave you will be paid your maternity pay at your normal rate. Check your contract for specific details. 
  • On maternity leave? You will continue to be paid maternity pay as usual. 

For a number of reasons, some new parents are having difficulty arranging childcare for their new-born due to, for example, social distancing measures/shielding from family members and nurseries not allowing visits for potential new starters.  

After reaching the required number of signatures, the petition for extended maternity leave is waiting to be debated in the house of commons. However, the government’s initial response is “The UK’s Maternity Leave offer is already amongst the most generous in the World – up to 52 weeks of leave are available, 39 weeks of which are paid – and we currently have no plans to extend it.”  

Many new parents have decided that they may want to return to school part time. The statutory right to ask for flexible working is unchanged. This right to ask does not, however, guarantee part time hours will be granted. If you would like to make a statutory request for flexible working, then please call Voice on 01332 372 337 for advice and guidance

What happens with Apprenticeships? 

If there is to be a break in learning for longer than four weeks, that begins on or after 1 April, the apprenticeship should be ‘paused’ by the employer through the apprenticeship service at the point the break in learning begins. 

It is important that the employer does “not ‘stop’ the apprenticeship through the apprenticeship service as this will prevent it resuming subsequently”. 

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