Recession | Is there a Cost of Parenting Crisis?

Is there a Cost of Parenting Crisis?

We’ve talked about the perfect storm for labour shortages in a previous blog, discussing the various impacts of the pandemic and leaving the EU.

However, another perfectly cognisant reason could be that we are losing a large percentage of a possible labour force by not better enabling parents to work around their parenting need. Lack of support, it could be argued, causes predominantly women to drop out of employment and thus additionally adds to the gender pay gap.

The cost of childcare in the UK has shot up in recent years with a 2019 OECD study showing the UK has the second-highest childcare costs relative to earnings in the world, with only New Zealand higher. In the UK, childcare costs are 35.7% of average wages, compared to the OECD average of 14.5%.

According to a recent report the average current childcare costs in the UK are as follows:

  • Nursery place for children aged 0-2 – £138.70 a week for part-time (25 hours) and £269.86 a week for full-time (50 hours) in Great Britain

  • Full-time (50 hours) nursery place for children aged 3-4, after maximum free hours entitlement has been applied – £105.76 a week in England, £85.03 in Scotland, and £98.58 in Wales

  • Part-time (25 hours) nursery place for children aged 3-4, after maximum free hours entitlement has been applied – £54.10 a week in England and £50.37 in Wales, all covered in Scotland

  • Childminder for children aged 0-2 – £124.41 a week for part-time and £237.28 a week for full-time

  • Full-time childminder for children aged 3-4, after maximum free hours entitlement has been applied – £93.98 a week in England, £93.36 in Scotland, and £92.94 in Wales

  • Part-time childminder for children aged 3-4, after maximum free hours discount has been applied – £48.67 a week in England, £46.69 in Scotland, and £47.33 in Wales

  • Childminder for after-school care of children aged 5-11 – £71.39 a week

These figures are shown after government benefits have been taken. Precisely what help towards childcare you can receive from the government is a complicated business, depending on age of the child and where you live.

The Coram Family and Childcare Trust report shows these costs and government assistance in far more detail than we can show here.

This is all assuming there is actual availability of childcare provision where you live. There has been discussion recently of the government planning to change the staff: child ratio in early years care settings in order to cut the costs of childcare for parents to provide more options, however it has been widely rejected by childcare providers as it would seriously undermine the quality of childcare.

As the pandemic saw many working parents who could work from home juggling with childcare provision and work, going back to the workplace has meant having to resume this requirement for formal childcare and it has been found difficult or impossible in many regions.

So how can employers help?

Many employers understand the challenges parents face and offer flexible work arrangements to make life easier. It is for the benefit of the business and the employee alike to find a healthy work/life balance.

Employers can offer parents additional leave so they can spend more time with their children. Once you have been continuously employed for a year, you are entitled to 18 weeks for each child, up to their fifth birthday. There is no legal requirement for an employer to pay you for this although some do, often at a reduced rate.

Employees have the right to request flexible working if they have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks. Flexible working can include working part-time, job sharing, shift working, working school hours, annualised hours, non-standard shift patterns (e.g., different start/finish times) and hybrid or home working.

There is a specific recognised process to be followed for this request with an employer. They do have the right to refuse after considering the request carefully and giving you a good business reason from the following reasons:

  • The burden of additional costs

  • An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff

  • An inability to recruit additional staff

  • A detrimental impact on quality or performance

  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand

  • Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work

  • Planned structural changes to the business

Crown provide user friendly and scalable time & resource management solutions to help you effectively manage your people and your complex working arrangements. Should you need help, our specialist working pattern consultancy can work with you to design shift patterns that account for the lifestyle needs and availability of personnel whilst still meeting operational demand.

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