Working mothers now face huge challenge to secure sufficient childcare

Two in five working mums are struggling to access the childcare they need to return to work, according to a poll published today by the TUC.

Women are in danger of being pushed out of the workforce due to lack of childcare.
Women are in danger of being pushed out of the workforce due to lack of childcare.

An ICM survey for the TUC reveals the extent of the problem facing working mothers when it comes to securing childcare.

Around two in five (41 per cent) of working mothers with children under ten say they can’t get – or are unsure whether they will get – enough childcare to cover the hours they need for work this September. 

Among those who are certain they’re unable to get enough childcare from September, nearly half said they don’t have their usual help from friends and family while more than a third told the TUC they can't get places at afterschool clubs   

Nearly one in three have lost childcare provided by school breakfast clubs and the same proportion don’t have their usual nursery or childminder available. 

The findings also highlight the huge pressures felt by working mothers during the coronavirus outbreak with the vast majority (90 per cent) saying they have taken on more childcare responsibilities since the pandemic began.

This has resulted in many having to combine working at home and childcare, with three in ten working early in the morning, or late at night, to balance work and childcare.

One in six – mostly those in low-paid jobs – said that they have had no   choice but to reduce their working hours. 

The TUC is calling for dedicated support to keep parents in jobs and a government cash boost for the childcare sector.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Women workers have borne the brunt of this crisis – both on the frontline and at home. 

‘Mums have picked up the majority of childcare while nurseries and schools have been closed. And many have sacrificed hours and pay to do so – especially those in low-paid jobs who can least afford the financial hit. 

‘But this can’t go on. If we don’t take this childcare crisis seriously women will be pushed out of the workforce, turning the clock back on decades of labour market progress. 

‘Childcare providers desperately need new government cash to stay open. And we need an extension to the job retention scheme for mums and dads who can’t return to work because of childcare responsibilities.” 

At the National Day Nurseries Association, chief executive Purnima Tanuku said the findings support how vital the early years sector is – ‘not just for children’s early education and development, but as a core part of our national economic infrastructure. Our call for urgent funding to the sector now has the support of trade unions, local authorities and parents who recognise the urgency of the situation. 

‘Nurseries have rightly invested time, effort and resources into measures to make sure children and staff are safe in settings. Governments across Europe are recognising the importance of the childcare sector to any economic recovery and providing financial support, it’s time Ministers did the same here.’

The TUC is calling on the Government to: 

  • Protect women’s jobs during the Covid-19 crisis: The option of furlough should remain in place beyond October to support parents who are unable to return to work because of childcare responsibilities until schools and childcare settings are fully reopened 
  • Give financial support to the childcare sector: An urgent cash boost – similar to the financial help given to the industry in Germany – is needed so that childcare providers can continue to offer the levels of care they were providing before the pandemic. 
  • Enable mums and dads to balance work and childcare: give staff the right to work as flexibly as possible from their first day in the job. Flexible working can take lots of different forms, including having predictable or set hours, working from home, job-sharing, compressed hours and term-time working. 

Read the survey here






Keep up to date with Early Years!

Sign up for our newsletter and keep up to date with Early Years education, process and events! We promise we won't spam you!