Majority of working mothers have been refused furlough

More than 70% of working mothers who asked to be furloughed for childcare reasons since schools shut have been refused

A survey of 50,000 women in the UK by trade union umbrella body the TUC has revealed the crisis facing working mothers.

The study found that 78% of working mothers had not been offered furlough, and 90% of working mothers had seen their anxiety and stress levels increase as a result.

On top of that, almost half (48%) were worried about being treated negatively by their employers because of their childcare responsibilities. Two in five mothers were unaware the scheme was available to parents affected by the school or nursery closures.

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President, Skillsoft said on the findings: “These numbers show that lack of childcare support is putting a big strain on working mothers, one that risks them being pushed out of the workforce entirely.

“Businesses must recognise this issue quickly and find ways of offering the support working mothers need. At its core, this means better embedding gender equality initiatives into HR policies and company culture.

“It’s critical that organisations offer support to their employees, being empathetic and understanding of individual circumstances during this uncertain time.

“Companies should continue to identify talented women and look for the best career paths to accelerate their growth and impact, despite juggling work and home commitments.”

The TUC calls for a temporary legal right to furlough for parents and carers, along with ten days’ paid carers’ leave, a right to flexible work, an increase in sick pay and access to the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) for newly self-employed parents.

This report shows that there needs to be more support from employers who have working parents with childcare responsibilities in their organisations. Parents are struggling to balance childcare and work responsibilities, and despite asking for help during a difficult time, they are still being denied. 

Kathryn Barnes, Employment Counsel EMEA at Globalization Partners, added: “The obligations and options for European employers to implement family-friendly working is extensive. But the most important is whether employers can accommodate flexible working requests.

“If an employee struggles with the hours they are working, for example, employers should be facilitating change without any impact on job security where possible. If an employer unjustifiable refuses a flexible working request, the employee can challenge that in a legal forum.

“In striving for workplace equality, businesses must never forget that management and cultural authenticity determine the success of every decision. The ability of employers to enact meaningful change is directly linked to the quality of their organisational values and whether they are effectively shared across their entire team.”
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