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More than 2,300 working mums in West Midlands responded to TUC and Mother Pukka survey on challenges of managing work and childcare for the school summer holiday

Mums reported huge difficulty in finding sufficient childcare post pandemic

TUC calls for 10 days' paid carer’s leave for all parents – and a legal right to flexible work for all workers

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of working mums in the West Midlands with primary school age children do not have sufficient childcare for the six-week school summer holidays, according to a new survey published by the TUC and campaigner Mother Pukka today (Thursday).

And the situation is even worse for single mums in the West Midlands, with four in five (80%) telling the TUC that they don’t have adequate childcare for the upcoming holidays.

‘Huge challenges’ for working mums

At the end of June, the TUC and campaigner Mother Pukka launched a call for evidence for working mums to share their experiences of how they will manage their work and childcare commitments this school summer holidays.

More than 36,000 mums got in touch, and over 2,300 of them were from the West Midlands.

Working mums across the public and private sector in the West Midlands reported huge challenges in balancing their work and childcare, with three in five (61%) saying they would find managing childcare in the holidays more difficult this year than previously.

Of those mums in the West Midlands who said they would find summer childcare more difficult this year:

  • Nearly one in five (18%) said they had used all their annual leave allowance already to accommodate home schooling during previous lockdowns.
  • Around one in five (19%) do not have their usual network of friends or family that they can rely on to help with their childcare this year.
  • One in seven (14%) told the TUC they don’t have access to their usual school holiday summer clubs.

Managing work and childcare this summer

Previous TUC research has shown that working mums have picked up the lion’s share of the increase in caring responsibilities during the Covid-19 lockdowns and school closures. And this survey reveals that these school holidays will be yet another struggle for working mums.

Mums in the West Midlands told the TUC they are juggling a variety of means to try and manage their childcare during the school holiday – and many are relying on being able to work more flexibly than before to help them cope:

  • Nearly half (47%) of mums said they were managing caring responsibilities through some form of flexible working.
  • Nearly two in five (38%) will have to combine working from home with childcare.
  • A quarter (25%) will work more flexibly than normal.
  • One in eight (13%) will have to reduce their hours at work.
  • One in seven (14%) will have to take unpaid leave.

TUC Midlands Regional Secretary Lee Barron 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 shouldn’t be this difficult. If ministers don’t act, we risk turning the clock back on generations of progress women have made at work.

“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 said: “There are approximately 62 days of holiday a year, and the average employee holiday allowance is 25 days. The maths simply doesn’t add up.

“If we are going to recover from this pandemic and ensure the playing field is level for men and women at some point in the future, we need childcare to be part of our infrastructure – as important as roads, railways and signposts.

“If it’s tough for a two-parent family, have a moment to consider a single parent family. The current system has parents at breaking point.

“Together with the TUC, I want to not 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.”

Government action

The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • Introduce 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. 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.
  • Introduce 10 days' carers leave paid on full pay, from day one in a job, for all parents. Currently parents have no statutory right to paid leave to look after their children.
  • Invest in childcare. We need more funding for good quality affordable childcare throughout the year to support parents and help the sector recover from the pandemic.
Editors note

- The TUC survey: 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%) of respondents were women, and 3,027 (nearly 8%) were single parents. Respondents were recruited via trade union and social media channels.
- A summary of the poll findings can be found at:
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for! a living.

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