Two in five working mothers are struggling to find childcare in light of COVID-19

Date: 22nd September 2020
Category: Social security and childcare

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As children return to schools, a TUC survey of working mothers shows many either can’t or are unsure if they will get the childcare they need.

Breakfast and after-school clubs remain shut and care from friends and family remains limited. As such, one in six working mothers report they have little choice but to reduce their hours, while three in 10 say they are having to work unsociable hours to balance both work and childcare. Nearly one in five are worried about how they will be assessed by their manager and one in six are concerned about career progression.

The survey follows a 2016 recommendation from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to conduct a rigorous child rights impact assessment into funding for childcare and family support to ensure it is accessible to all who need it.

The findings shed light on the additional pressures felt by working mothers throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with 90% saying they have taken on more childcare responsibilities since the pandemic began. Moreover, 43% said they have had to combine working at home and childcare, in contrast to just 29% of their partners.

Warning that the pandemic could set labour market progress back decades and increase the gender pay gap, the TUC has called on the UK Government to expand the furlough scheme beyond October for parents without the childcare they need and to give financial support to the childcare sector. This would enable childcare providers to continue to offer the levels of childcare offered prior to COVID-19.  TUC has also asked companies to provide more flexibility for working parents.