With the upcoming summer holidays on the horizon, almost two-thirds of working mothers do not have sufficient childcare for this period.

New research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows that the majority of working mothers who have children of primary school age do not have enough childcare for the summer holidays.

This impacted 63 per cent of working mothers and over three-quarters (76 per cent) of single mothers.

In addition, the impact of COVID-19 has taken a toll on this group with three in five (60 per cent) working mothers saying that they would find managing childcare in the holidays more difficult this year than previous years.

This was because almost a fifth (18 per cent) had already used their annual leave to accommodate home schooling during previous lockdowns.

A further fifth (20 per cent) do not have their usual network of friends and family to rely on who could assist with childcare.

Summer holiday clubs have also been impacted by the events of the past year and almost one in eight working mothers (13 per cent) say they no longer have access to these.

As such, many of these mothers (48 per cent) reported they are relying more heavily on the need for flexible working to manage their various duties.

However, one in eight confessed they will have to reduce their hours at work and the same number of working mothers said they will have to take unpaid leave to look after their children.

In light of these findings, the TUC have set out key recommendations including:

  • Introducing a legal right to flexible work for all workers from their first day in a job and a duty to include available flexibility in job adverts.
  • Introducing 10 days’ carer’s leave paid on full pay, from day one in a job, for all parents.
  • Investing in childcare.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

Women have borne the brunt of the pandemic, on the front line in key worker roles and at home. Working mums picked up the lion’s share of caring responsibilities while schools were closed, with many sacrificing hours and pay to do so.

But while restrictions may be lifting and ministers talk about us getting back to normal, working mums are still feeling the impact of the pandemic. Most mums told us they don’t have enough childcare for the upcoming school holidays and are now facing a huge challenge managing their work and caring responsibilities this summer.

It’s clear parents are relying on flexibility more than ever to cope with the extra demands posed by the crisis. Let’s make sure everyone has stronger legal rights to flexible working arrangements.

And I’d urge employers to be as supportive as they can to their staff who have kids, and not force them back to the office if working at home helps them balance their work and childcare.

Founder of Mother Pukka Anna Whitehouse added that she “did not want to just break the cycle but rebuild a whole new way of working for parents which doesn’t leave them logging off from their careers or disconnected from their family.”


*The TUC and Mother Pukka survey was self-selecting and ran from Wednesday 23 June-Sunday 4 July and had 38,959 responses. 36,108 (92 per cent) of respondents were women, and 3,027 (nearly 8 per cent) were single parents. Respondents were recruited via trade union and social media channels.