Bosses demand all working parents should send kids to school

 

BOSSES are demanding that schools take in the children of all workers this week to "ease the pressure'' on working parents and help stay-at-home staff focus on their jobs.

As the children of "essential workers'' head back to class tomorrow, a powerful union has asked the state government to grant more flexible hours to public servants forced to home-school their kids for the next five weeks during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Together union is seeking special treatment for public servants working from home, so they can "complete their work effectively''.

Now bosses want the government to relax rules forcing parents who work from home to "supervise'' their children's learning for hours each day.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) said employers were being "as flexible as possible''.

"But the reality is, having staff juggle their work commitments while home-schooling their children will impact productivity and their staff's wellbeing, which is a concern,'' CCIQ general manager of advocacy Amanda Rohan said yesterday.

"The current definition by the state government of an essential worker as anyone required to attend their workplace, does not factor in the type of work being done in the home, and if a parent would be able to focus on their children adequately.

"We believe broadening the definition to include anyone working at home or outside of the home would help business and worker productivity and ease pressures on working parents.''

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace refused to back down yesterday, insisting that parents must "do the right thing'' to stop coronavirus spreading.

"It is important to remember that we do not expect parents to be teachers,'' she said.

Asked if children would be turned away if their parents work from home - as happened in Victoria - Ms Grace said that "no child will be put in an unsafe situation by any school.''

"If parents are unsure about whether or not they can send their child to school they should make contact with their principal,'' she said.

"We expect the majority of parents to do the right thing over the next five weeks to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

"In order to ensure that students and staff can appropriately maintain social distancing while at school, the numbers of children in attendance needs to be significantly reduced.''

Ms Grace said that "if a parent is required in their workplace or is unable to supervise their child at any point then they are permitted to send their child to school.''

"It is important to remember that we do not expect parents to be teachers,'' she said.

The Minister's comments differ from the message on the Education Queensland website, which states that "if there is a parent at home who is available to supervise their child, students will complete learning and activities in their homes.''

It says that from the start of Term 2 tomorrow, until May 22, all students will learn from home unless they are "vulnerable'' or the "children of essential workers on days when they are not able to be supervised at home and no other arrangements can be made''.

"Essential worker means any worker who must continue to attend their workplace for essential business during this time,'' the Department says.

Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford called on bosses to be flexible for parents juggling at-home work with home-schooling.

"At times when parents working from home may need to also supervise children in home schooling, unions support flexibility for both workers and employers as long as it comes through genuine consultation and agreement in reasonable time frames,'' he said.

The Together Union has told its members it is looking for more "flexible'' work arrangements for public servants.

"If you are working from home or telecommuting and you have school aged children, the Department of Education are saying that your child should engage in home-based learning if they attend state schools,'' it states in a newsletter.

"We are working through options to propose to government about how workers can manage their work as they work remotely, along with their responsibilities to supervise children and home-based learning.

"This may need to involve the ability to work additional flexible hours (by mutual agreement), which would allow working parents to complete their work effectively.''

Together secretary Alex Scott refused to answer questions from The Sunday-Mail.

 

THE ADVICE: CAN YOUR KIDS GO TO SCHOOL TOMORROW?

 

What Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace says:

"If a parent is required in their workplace or is unable to supervise their child at any point then they are permitted to send their child to school. It is important to remember that we do not expect parents to be teachers."

 

What the Queensland Department of Education website says:

"If there is a parent at home who is available to supervise their child, students will complete learning and activities in their homes. From the start of Term 2 until May 22, 2020, all students will be learning from home, except for … children of essential workers on days when they are not able to be supervised at home and no other arrangements can be made. 'Essential worker' means any worker who must continue to attend their workplace for essential business
during this time."

 

Originally published as Bosses demand all working parents should send kids to school



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