Last night the Government announced that it would be closing schools as part of the national lockdown, contradicting its position just 24 hours earlier and causing major problems for many parents.
Last year, to help parents, AXA extended its provision of paid emergency leave from five days to twenty which along with the ability to flex working patterns and holiday allowed many to cope with the circumstances they found themselves in.
Whilst the company has announced that the use of these twenty days can now be extended to April 2021, it is likely that most employees who have needed to use these days have probably used all of them in the first two lockdowns.
Most employees with childcare responsibilities in AXA will be able to manage their situation through working flexibly hours, taking holiday and sharing responsibilities with partners, although we appreciate that it can be difficult and stressful.
However there is a group of employees with younger children who in customer facing roles who cannot work flexibly and have no partner to share looking after their child(ren), and these need support beyond what the company is currently offering.
The Government Job Retention Scheme allows these employees to be furloughed and receive (at least) 80% of their salary, but the company has decided that it will not use the scheme, so this option which would address the problem is not available.
We have asked AXA to urgently review its policy to help this group of employees and solve a problem it has largely created itself by not utilising the scheme for the small number of employees who need the help it would provide.
If you have childcare responsibilities and have problems balancing them with your work in the first instance you should speak with your manager, but if you get no help there, please contact your local Unite in AXA rep for help.