The full scale of the crisis facing working mothers as a result of the pandemic can be revealed today.
Mothers across London are coming under “great pressure” as they bear the brunt of childcare and battle to keep their jobs.
The pressure is expected to increase as the furlough scheme ends and more children are sent home from school during any new lockdown and the cold and flu season, experts warned.
They said while all parents were affected, businesswomen “have been disproportionately” impacted by the knock-on effects of the pandemic.
A Standard investigation found:
- 46 per cent of women made redundant during the virus said lack of childcare played a role in their redundancy, a survey of 20,000 mothers found.
- 72 per cent of mothers have had to work fewer hours because of childcare problems and 65 per cent of mothers who have been furloughed said a lack of childcare was the reason, according to the same survey.
- Calls to a legal helpline for working mothers have risen by 450 per cent with a sharp increase from those facing redundancy.
- Companies led by women are now half as likely to be in a strong financial position, according to data from London research firm Beahurst.
- Almost three-quarters of parents surveyed by childcare app Bubble said they need more childcare, or their existing childcare will need to be more flexible.
Sarah Ronan, spokeswoman for campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed which carried out the survey, said: “What we have seen during lockdown and with childcare closures is a return to the default. Our parental leave system sets women up as the primary carer, so we revert to type.
“We have seen women picking up the load and doing the lion’s share in terms of being responsible for home schooling and caring. We have also seen the impact of the gender pay gap. In a household where there are two earners, it is the woman who is furloughed because often she is often earning less.”
Even celebrity mothers have been hit by the issue, with Keira Knightley pulling out of upcoming series The Essex Serpent over childcare concerns, according to reports. Childcare providers have lost about £228 million during the pandemic and thousands of nurseries are at risk of closure.
A group of businesses, parents and childcare providers, including the British Chambers of Commerce and the National Children’s Bureau, have called for a bailout to stem the risk of a Covid childcare crisis
An Entrepreneurs Network report found that during lockdown British women did two-thirds more childcare than men, often cutting their working hours and harming their career.
Ms Ronan said: “One of the biggest enablers of maternal employment has been childcare, so any reduction in provision is going to cause those figures to regress. We are talking about undoing a generation of progress. Childcare is infrastructure.
“Transport for London quite rightly received a bailout to keep going because how would people be able to go to work in London without transport? So how can people go to work without childcare? It’s exactly the same thing. We need to start viewing it not as a domestic issue but as an infrastructure issue that needs to be addressed at a national level.”
Although schools and nurseries are open, children are regularly being sent home to self-isolate if they have a temperature, which makes working harder for parents.