Working mothers face ‘absolute disaster’ as lack of childcare blamed for their lost jobs

New research from campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed reveals how childcare closures are stopping almost half of women from returning to work.

The vast majority of working women are struggling to get childcare in place, according to new data.
The vast majority of working women are struggling to get childcare in place, according to new data.

More than 46 per cent of employed mothers, who have now been made redundant or expect to be made redundant, report that a lack of childcare is a major cause.

A total 19,950 working women were polled by Pregnant Then Screwed to determine how childcare closures due to coronavirus have affected their ability to continue in employment.

In addition to those who say their jobs have been lost or are hanging in the balance, 72 per cent of women say they are having to work fewer hours and 65 per cent have been furloughed because they cannot get their children looked after.

Among those who are employed, 81 per cent said they needed childcare to be able to work but 51 per cent do not have this in place.

The Government has recently come under attack for failing to include childcare at the heart of the nation’s economic recovery plan.

Last week Labour leader Keir Starmer said that despite parents getting a ‘back to work notice just as the summer holidays began’, they are faced with a childcare ‘sector on its knees’.

At the Early Years Alliance, chief executive Neil Leitch, said: ‘If the Government is serious about supporting parents and rebooting the economy, it cannot afford to sit by and watch thousands more childcare providers go out of business.’

Joeli Brearley, CEO and founder of Pregnant Then Screwed believes the Government is ignoring the realities for women when it tells employers they should use ‘their discretion’ to consider how staff can continue working safely.

‘Fifty one per cent of mothers simply do not have the childcare in place to be able to return to work outside of their home,’ she said. ‘This lack of childcare is destroying women's careers, they are being made redundant, they are cutting their hours, and they are being treated negatively all because they are picking up the slack.’

How pregnant women fare
A return to the workplace will also impact pregnant women who are vulnerable and are at risk of infection if they come into contact with other people in the workplace.

Forty five per cent of pregnant workers who are currently working outside of the home, say they have not had an individual risk assessment conducted, increasing to 52 per cent for BAME pregnant women. This is despite being classed as ‘clinically vulnerable’ by the Government.

A further 46 per cent of these pregnant women do not feel safe from Covid-19 when they are at work, increasing to 59 per cent for BAME pregnant women.  

Forty six per cent of the sample who have been suspended from work because of their pregnancy have been suspended on incorrect terms, including 33 per cent on furlough, and another 13 per cent on sick pay or told to take holiday or to start maternity pay. 

Self-employed mothers are being dealt ‘new lows’ according to the data which suggests that 74 per cent have had their earning potential reduced because of a lack of access to childcare.

Forty four per cent of self-employed mothers have had to give up their childcare space during covid, which is up from 33 per cent for employed mothers. 

‘Self-employed women have had an unbelievable ride during Covid-19, with women who have taken maternity leave in the last three years seeing their government support cut by a third or even two-thirds if they have had two maternity leaves, compared to dads who are not impacted financially by maternity leave,’ saus Joeli Brearley.

‘On top of this they are having to give up their childcare spaces at a faster rate than employed mothers, and their earning potential is reducing week after week. It’s an absolute disaster.’

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