It’s no surprise that disruption to our workforce, caused by the impact of Covid-19, has had a huge impact on working families’ lives. A big challenge (for working mums in particular) is how to balance paid work with caring responsibilities. These difficulties have intensified since the crisis began; and have impaired women’s equal access to employment.
A new report released on 4th June from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) called ‘Forced out: the cost of getting childcare wrong’, has recommended that the government takes “emergency measures” to prevent “widespread and unnecessary job loss” for working parents.
The report calls for emergency funding for the early years sector to “ensure providers can remain open and financially viable”.
Summary of key recommendations from the report:
- Protect women’s incomes during the Covid-19 crisis: A more limited form of the job retention scheme should remain in place beyond October to support parents who are unable to return to work because of childcare responsibilities and enable them to remain on it until schools and childcare settings are fully reopened
- Enable both parents to balance work and care: Give staff the right to work as flexibly as possible from their first day in the job. Flexible working can take lots of different forms, including the right to predictable hours, working from home, job-sharing, compressed hours and term-time working
- Prevent a large-scale collapse of the childcare sector: Give an urgent cash injection to the childcare sector to ensure it remains sustainable and target additional funding at provision supporting children from low income households
- Ensure our parental leave is fit for purpose: Give all workers, regardless of their employment status, a day one right to 10 days paid parental leave. This could be used, for example, to cover parents who are unable to work during a 14-day self-isolation mandated by NHS Track and Trace
- Employers must be given clear messages from government: Employers will be breaking the law if they unfairly select women for redundancy because of caring responsibilities
The report also calls on the government to target childcare support “at those that need it most” as children from low-income backgrounds are still less likely to access early years education than their peers. It warned the government to make sure that these children do not miss out further “as the squeeze on childcare places increase”.