Thousands of teachers in Northern Ireland went on strike again on Wednesday in a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.

Today’s strike forced members of the five largest teaching unions to stop work for up to 12 hours. Four more all-day strikes will follow in the spring.

In addition, school staff also went on strike over wages. There will be further disruption on Friday when school staff begin a 24-hour strike.

READ MORE: Warning of ‘significant disruption’ as NI teachers strike

READ MORE: School bus drivers strike on same day as public transport workers

Strike means some people have to arrange childcare at the last minute – so what rights do you have if you can’t work?

We will explain your employment rights if you cannot go to work to care for your child.

Can I take a day off to look after my child?

If your child’s school is closed and you cannot arrange alternative childcare, contact your boss as soon as possible.

You are entitled to time off to care for your child in an emergency – this is called “dependent leave” – ​​but your employer does not have to pay you.

Check the terms of your contract to find out what your payment rights are.

Please note that some companies may wonder if the strikes are an emergency as the dates for industrial action were known in advance.

If your childcare plans fell through at the last minute, you should let your employer know. This will likely put your situation in the “emergency” category.

Also make it clear if you only found out this morning that your child’s school is closed.

Chris Garner, director of HR and employment law firm Avensure, told Mirror Money another option if you don’t want to take the day off without pay is to take annual leave.

He said: “It is important that people speak to their employers and follow the correct procedures if they are struggling to arrange childcare.” Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action and lost wages.

“School closures will increase the risk of absenteeism, but we must remember that the current situation is neither the fault of working parents nor the fault of employers.”

“While there is no automatic right to fire in these circumstances, a workforce disaster can be avoided through effective communication.”

Mr Garner said employers should try to be “as reasonable as possible”, while employees should try to give as much notice as possible.

If someone no longer has annual leave, approved unpaid leave is also an option. You can also ask to work from home if you can do your job remotely.

Chris added: “If an employee exercises their right to family leave and is subsequently subject to disciplinary action, dismissal, exclusion from promotion or similar harm, the company could face legal action.”

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