Many thanks for your patience. If you have a shielding letter then you are legally entitled to be off sick for the period you are shielding. The employer cannot force you to return to work.
The current situation is creating a lot of difficulties for many people across the country as it is unprecedented to have to look after your children at home, whilst not being able to rely on any outside help, whilst also working at the same time.
However, the law has not changed in terms of your options and these remain as follows:
· Dependency leave – this is only for emergencies and you could have likely used it to start with but once it has become apparent that this will be happening on an ongoing basis, it will no longer be classified as an emergency
· Parental leave – you get 4 weeks of unpaid leave per year per child that you can take, although you need to give at least 21 days notice. If the employer cannot accommodate your chosen dates they must offer you an alternative. Even if you take one day off a week it will still count as a whole week off your entitlement
· Holidays – to be applied for in the normal way
· Unpaid leave, if approved by your employer
· As a final resort, you can just take the time off unauthorised but that risks disciplinary action so only do it if absolutely necessary and you have no other option.
The employer also has the option of using the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and furlough you, claiming for part of your wages from the State, but that is entirely up to them and you cannot force them to do it, even if they could.
Does this answer your query?