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Can furloughed staff keep in touch with families - our quest to find the answer!


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Hi all, 

Like many of you, we have been trying to find the answer  as to whether furloughed staff can still keep in touch with families using a system such as Tapestry. 

The first port of call for many of you will have been, like me, to the union or their legal teams. The message from them is a resounding - no! However, we felt that they were interpreting the rules as they are written, which is what you would expect from a legal team!  I have to say though, if you're expecting these legal teams to support you, and you've gone against their advice, you may find things a little more difficult. In my opinion though, the rules work brilliantly for 'commercial' places of work, but for those people working with children, it is different!

So, the quest to find an answer continued. I first went to Twitter and tried HMRC - who came back with a response of 'it should be fine'. I then clarified it further with them, and again, they responded the same, saying they thought there shouldn't be a problem with staff keeping in touch with families, as it helps settle the children. Almost a great answer - but it wasn't definite as they used the word 'should'! 

Helen then contacted the Shadow Education Secretary, who advised we contact HM Treasury which I did. First by email, then by phone. The email was auto replied stating that it would take at least 21 working days to reply. The phone call was answered almost immediately which was great. They agreed that those working with children were a special circumstance and that no decision had been made by them about this yet, and that it would be something that maybe the DfE would help with the decision of. 

So....I then contact Nick Gibb's office who also happens to be my local MP. They also agreed that the benefit to the children having some kind of contact and 'normality' during these times were so important, and that they would contact the DfE about this to try and find an answer. That was almost 2 weeks ago now, and still not heard anything back, so no answer there! 

All in all, it seems like the legal teams are saying no, but others agree that there is a case to be made for them to still contact families whilst furloughed. I will update this thread if I hear anything back from anyone, but please do also add anything you get back here for others to see. 

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