Government easing work from home guidance ‘completely ignores the realities facing women’, says charity supporting working mums

The Canary

Half of working mothers are lacking the necessary childcare to enable them to work during the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, according to a survey. Campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed questioned 19,950 mothers and pregnant women amid an easing of the work-from-home guidance.

The survey found that more than two thirds (72%) of mothers have had to work fewer hours because of childcare issues, reducing household income. Meanwhile, 65% of those on furlough said a shortfall in childcare was the reason for them being furloughed.

Research showing the impact of childcare closures on women found that while 81% of employed mothers need childcare to be able to work. But some 51% do not have the necessary provisions in place to allow them to do so.

“Lack of childcare is destroying women’s careers”

Boris Johnson announced an end to the government’s “stay at home” messaging last week. He further said that it will be up to employers to discuss with workers whether it’s safe to return from 1 August.

But Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said this “completely ignores the realities facing women”. She said:

This lack of childcare is destroying women’s careers, they are being made redundant, they are being forced to cut their hours, and they are being treated negatively all because they are picking up the unpaid labour

Labour leader Keir Starmer warned that parents were being put in an “impossible position” over a return to offices due to a lack of childcare support.

Gender imbalance exacerbated by the pandemic

Conducted online between 16-18 July, the survey found 15% of mothers have been made redundant, or think they could be in the next six months. And almost half (46%) of those said that a lack of childcare played a role.

Some 11.2% of pregnant women have been made redundant or expect to be during the crisis, with just over half (53.2%) believing that their pregnancy was a factor. This figure jumps to 66.7% among Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women.

Meanwhile, some 74% of self-employed mothers said lack of access to childcare, due to schools and facilities closing, had reduced their self-employed earning potential.

Brearley said:

We need to see provisions in place to support mothers who are struggling with childcare through no fault of their own

We need the Government to open its eyes to the gender imbalance that Covid-19 is exacerbating and we need to help pregnant women and mums to be treated on merit, not on how many kids they have. The time to change this is now.

It comes as NHS England said it will contribute towards the cost of childcare, in a move to encourage hundreds of doctors with family responsibilities to return to general practice.

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