New polling shows three in 10 working parents worry that their caring responsibilities will make them more vulnerable to redundancy.
Research by Working Families, a work-life balance charity, highlights the sustained flexibility that working parents and people with caring responsibilities will still need after the pandemic.
According to the data, 13 million working parents in the UK have had to simultaneously juggle childcare whilst meeting the demands of their job during the pandemic.
Whilst most employees report being supported by their employers, almost a fifth (19 per cent) say they did not get any support from their employer to manage the challenges of being a parent whilst working.
Parents from working class backgrounds were also less likely to have access to flexible working arrangements over the past year, meaning several groups were shut out from vital support.
In addition to this, half of all working parents fear that the lifting of restrictions will bring an end to the flexibility which has been encouraged over the last year. Reverting back to old ways of working, they believe, will negatively impact their family life – with this concern being seen slightly more amongst women (53 per cent).
The end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is also a big worry for some parents. Nearly one in three (29 per cent) parents who have worked throughout the pandemic are concerned that their caring responsibilities will put them at higher risk of redundancy once furlough ends.
Once again, this fear is more prevalent amongst women (34 per cent) and working class parents (35 per cent). The charity states that more protections against redundancy need to be brought in urgently – particularly for pregnant women and new parents.
As such, over three-quarters of working parents (77 per cent) want the Government to create more flexible jobs. Over four in five (84 per cent) desire employers to take this initiative themselves.
The recommendations of this research urge employers to design and advertise jobs as flexible, and actively encourage flexible working as a way to support working parents and enhance wellbeing.
Furthermore, the charity has called on the 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:
Working parents have had a uniquely challenging time over the pandemic – juggling the demands of work with childcare and homeschooling.
Lifting the final restrictions on our daily lives will of course be hugely welcome in so many ways, but this new research shows how critical it is employers manage that transition 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.
This polling sends a strong message to employers that if they want to reach a more diverse talent pool, including from the 13 million working parents in the UK today, they need to be building flexible working into jobs from the start.
We are asking managers to focus on the quality of the work being delivered, not on demanding rigid times and places for working. As we work together to figure out our ‘new normal’, one thing is very clear: to go back to old, inflexible ways of working would not just be a bitter blow for many parents, it would make extremely bad business sense.
*This research, carried out by YouGov Plc, surveyed 4,357 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th – 23rd May 2021.