Dutch gov't: No paid corona leave for parents during school shutdown
The outgoing Dutch Cabinet announced on Wednesday that parents will not be able to receive additional paid leave from work in order to take care of children unable to attend school due to the coronavirus lockdown. In a letter to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch Parliament, the departing health minister, Hugo de Jonge, said, “We understand that the current home situation is difficult and can lead to tensions in the workplace”, but added that a special “corona leave” is “not an accessible path”.
De Jonge said the Cabinet looked into several options for providing paid leave to parents. The conclusion they drew from their investigation was that offering parents paid leave while at the same time compensating employers was “impossible.”
The caretaker Cabinet was aware that what they are asking from both employers and employees is a heavy burden, De Jonge wrote. Still, the best route was for employers to and employees to be flexible and figure out creative solutions together, like adapted work schedules, using vacation days, a temporary reduction in paid work hours or taking advantage of another form of unpaid leave.
The reason the Cabinet gave for not sanctioning corona leave is the complexity of the situation. It said the Cabinet decided it was too difficult to evaluate the needs of employers on a case-by-case basis, and that a more generic approach will be ineffectual in that it will not take into account what businesses need individually.“Generic compensation means that companies that do not need it are compensated and companies that do need it are barely compensated,” De Jonge wrote on behalf of the Cabinet.
Employer’s unions have already complained that absenteeism in their companies is sky-rocketing, with parents having to take on the role of teaching their children while simultaneously carrying out their work.
Childcare services at schools and daycare centers meant for students in an urgent situation have had to turn children away because all their spots were filled. The placements are meant for students struggling the most with schoolwork, those from disadvantaged families, children in a vulnerable home situation, or families whose parents perform a critical job function in the country.
Schools, including elementary schools and daycare centers in the Netherlands have been closed since December 15 and will remain shut until at least February 8. During a press conference on Wednesday, De Jonge reiterated that the schools would reopen pending the outcome of research into the spread of the highly contagious B117 mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.