Published in the Peterborough Telegraph on the 9th September 2021
It has arrived! September 2021 and the start of the new academic year.
Whether you have children starting pre-school, Primary Reception, secondary school, sixth form or whether your child is moving up a school year, it’s all important and impactful. Challenging at the best of times, but at this time, there is still the Covid factor, but it is the element of the ‘unknown’ in relation to Covid that is challenging.
Government and Education guidelines are evolving about what happens in relation to testing and isolation, depending upon vaccination status and who they are in contact with. Meanwhile, employers are starting to expect their employees to return to the work-place and there is less uniformity over all working parents being in the same ‘home-schooling boat’ at the same time.
So how can employers, try to return to their new ‘normal’ but still support parents? And to be fair not just parents but any employees who are needing to make short term changes to their working contract to deal with a situation?
I have long been an advocate of my clients having a Temporary Variation Policy, and with the continued existence of Covid, this type of policy helps employers manage these unpredicted needs.
Essentially, when a situation occurs which impacts on an employee being able to fulfil their contractual obligations for a short period, i.e. up to two weeks, a discussion takes place between the employee and their manager and a temporary variation is agreed. This already happens informally in many organisations, however there are benefits of having this temporary variation recorded for both employee and employer.
For the employee, they explicitly know what is expected from them, rather than a ‘well, just do what you can’. They know that they have the support of their line manager to ensure that the temporary variation is supported amongst their colleagues. The employer knows exactly what to expect of their employee during this time and can manage expectations accordingly. Organisations can also choose to keep the usual terms and conditions of employment in place for this variation i.e. salary maintenance.
It also provides a date to review the temporary variation, and the review can establish if a longer-term solution is needed. A TVP helps both parties know boundaries and expectations. It can also help prevent an inconsistent approach towards employees.
But consider … a temporary variation policy is not just for covid!