NIGHTSHIFT workers are being penalised over keyworker childcare places at nurseries.

That's the concern of one Dunfermline mum, who says she has been informed childcare is only available for those who are working at the time that nurseries are open.

It means that Jennifer McMurray is now struggling to juggle working a bank shift at night in the Queen Margaret Hospital, fitting in placement for her nursing degree, while also caring for her child through the day.

Jennifer's four-old son attended Touch Primary School without any problems in the first lockdown while she slept and her partner also carried on as a keyworker working through the day.

However, in lockdown round two it appears she is not eligible for help.

"I know I'm not the only one in the same predicament and have seen similar stories to mine where two parents are keyworkers but one works a nightshift," Jennifer said.

"A lot of parents have had to give up work or are still working with no sleep!

"This needs to be addressed as this pandemic isn't going away any time soon.

"Not allowing nightshift workers to use the keyworker nurseries will only make some unemployed or physically and mentally unwell.

"I will need to work 37.5 hours-plus per week with no sleep or I don't work and make no income or I give up my degree."

Touch Primary told Jennifer in an email that she was not eligible because the guidelines state that "children should only attend when their keyworker parent(s) are at work/on a shift".

The mum continued: "If you are working in a hospital for 12 hours, how do they expect parents to then deal with childcare without any sleep?

"The guidelines do not seem to be well thought out.

"Nightshift workers are still keyworkers and they can't function without any sleep.

"It's a predicament for many others, not just myself, and I don't think we should have to choose between an income or running ourselves into the ground.

"During the holidays, my mum and sister try to help out with childcare but I'm not comfortable with that right now as my sister has had cancer and is considered high-risk.

"My partner is working through the day so the only person who can look after my son is myself.

"Don't get me wrong, it's not like I get a full night's sleep anyway but three or four hours makes a huge difference.

"But the criteria is saying if you are in the house through the day then you are not entitled to childcare."

Fortunately, work and university have now allowed Jennifer to change her shifts for the time being but she says the issue still needs to be addressed to help others who haven't been lucky enough to do that.

"Nobody should be put in the position of not getting childcare if they are nightshift workers," Jennifer added.

"And what's more, when I was told that I wasn't eligible last Friday, there were only four children at the centre so there isn't even a problem with oversubscription."

Head of education and children's services, Shelagh McLean, commented: "The safety of our school communities is our priority during these challenging times.

"During this second lockdown, schools and nurseries are once again open for the children of our keyworkers.

"However, if these children can be looked after, either at home by another adult or through informal childcare arrangements, then the advice is not to send them to school.

"All schools and nurseries are considering each application and taking account of the full family circumstances in determining whether the offer of a place is appropriate.

"In line with the national guidance, the definition of a keyworker is applied across all schools and nurseries and, where applicable, both parents/carers must be keyworkers to be considered eligible for a place."