I could not work last week as I had to look after my children. My employer is saying I have to use personal leave, but Circular 2 suggests I might not have to?
The following applies to absences during the lockdown period of 6pm on Sunday 31 January 2021 to 6pm on 6 February 2021 only.
If you were deemed an essential worker during the period of lockdown, the Stay at Home Directions (No. 3) did not apply to your work and you were required to attend at your regular workplace unless there were extenuating circumstances and alternative arrangements were entered into with your employer. PSLR's Bulletin to Circular 2 states that "employees whose work is defined as “essential” may have good reasons for being unable to attend work over the lockdown period."
You should be paid the amount you would otherwise have been entitled to be paid (including allowances and penalties).
If you were a non-essential worker and were unable to work from home, you are not required to access any form of leave unless you were already on a period of approved leave or leave that was due to commence during the lockdown period. You should be paid the amount you would otherwise have been entitled to be paid (including allowances and penalties).
Note: Circular 2 does not distinguish between caring for school-aged or children who would otherwise have been in a daycare facility. Provided that the employee's absence from work was due to the need to supervise their child/ren who were not being supervised by another person, they are not required to take personal leave for this absence.
1. PSLR's Bulletin to Circular 2 for more information:
2. Circular 2: