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Responding to today’s (Tuesday) report by the Women and Equalities Committee, which sets out how women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  

Responding to today’s (Tuesday) report by the Women and Equalities Committee, which sets out how women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:   

“Women have been put in an impossible situation during the pandemic – often expected to work and look after children at the same time.  

“Too many working mums are having to cut their hours or being forced to leave their jobs because they cannot manage.  

“If ministers don’t act, women will be pushed out of the labour market. And that means women’s and children’s poverty will soar.  

“Ministers must give all parents a temporary right to be furloughed now.  

“And they must fix the UK’s lamentable support for working parents. That means giving all parents at least ten days’ paid parental leave each year, making real flexible working available to all, and funding childcare properly.    

"Unless ministers strengthen rights and support for working parents, women’s equality risks being set back decades.” 

On the committee’s recommendation to carry out and publish an equality impact assessment on how government policies have affected women, Frances O’Grady added: 

“The government must urgently carry out and publish equality impact assessments of all its policies during this pandemic. 

“This crisis, and the government’s response to it, is deepening inequalities for women at work.” 

A TUC survey of 52,000 working mums published earlier this month revealed that 9 in 10 had experienced higher levels of anxiety and stress levels during this latest lockdown.    

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of those who had applied for furlough following the latest school closures have had their requests turned down.   

The TUC says this situation results from the UK’s failure to help families balance paid work and childcare. It is calling on the government to introduce:     

  • A new temporary right to furlough for groups who cannot work because of coronavirus restrictions – both parents and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and required to shield.     

  • Ten days' paid parental leave, from day one in a job, for all parents.  Currently parents have no statutory right to paid leave to look after their children.    

  • A right to flexible work for all parents. 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.     

  • Give additional financial support to the childcare sector so that childcare providers can continue to offer support to working parents.   

  • An increase in sick pay to at least the level of the real Living Wage, for everyone in work, to ensure workers can afford to self-isolate if they need to.    

  • Newly self-employed parents to have access the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS).     

Editors note

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 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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