Parents worry about less flexibility after restrictions ease

A Working Families survey shows significant numbers of parents are worried about redundancy after furlough and less flexible working when restrictions are lifted.

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Half of parents – and more than half of mums – are worried that moving back to less flexible ways of working after the final restrictions are lifted will have a negative effect on their family life, according to a Working Families survey.

The YouGov survey of over 4K parents, is part of Working Families’ #FlexTheUK campaign, partnered by Wates Group. It found that more women than men (53% v 47%) are worried about losing flexibility in the way they work as restrictions ease.  There is also significant concern among parents, particularly women and working class parents, that the end of furlough could put them at greater risk of redundancy.

Nearly one in three (29%) parents who have worked throughout the pandemic are concerned that their caring responsibilities will put them at higher risk of redundancy once furlough ends, with 34% of women and 35% of working class parents saying this. 

The  survey shows that working parents’ experience of Covid has been very mixed. While most working parents felt supported by their employer to manage their childcare arrangements (for example, by changing their working patterns to manage home-schooling and caring responsibilities), one in five (19%) say they did not get any support from their employer to manage the challenges of being a parent during the pandemic. Working Families adds that middle class parents were far more likely to be given the chance to work flexibly and report the benefits of it on family life. In contrast, working class parents were less likely to have access to flexible working arrangements and, even when they did, they were less positive about its impact on family life.

Parents overwhelmingly said they want the government to intervene to create more flexible jobs (77%), and for employers to use their own initiative to do so (84%). A clear majority say they would be more likely to apply for a job that’s advertised as flexible than one that’s not in the future (69%).

Working Families is calling for employers to design and advertise jobs as flexible, and actively encourage flexible working as a way to support working parents and enhance wellbeing and for Government to bring forward their new Employment Bill in 2022 and include a duty on employers to make jobs flexible unless there is a business case not to; and take action against insecure employment practices.

Jane van Zyl, CEO of Working Families, said:  “This new research shows how critical it is employers manage the transition [out of the pandemic] sensitively, make the wellbeing of their staff teams a priority, and support working parents to keep the gains to family life they have seen through the pandemic. 

“We are seeing, both through this polling and calls to our free legal advice service, a very real concern that parents who have had caring responsibilities through the pandemic will be most vulnerable to redundancy when the furlough scheme ends. It highlights the precarious nature of work for many parents, and the need for better redundancy protections for people with caring responsibilities.”

*Read the full report



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