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Furlough refused to 71% of UK working mothers while schools shut

Child Reading

New @The_TUC survey reveals that more than 70% of working mothers who asked to be furloughed for childcare reasons since schools shut have been refused

The survey of 50,000 women in the UK has revealed the crisis facing working mothers and was described as a “cry for help” by trade union umbrella body the TUC.


  • 78% of working mothers had not been offered furlough.

  • 90% of working mothers had seen their anxiety and stress levels increase

  • Almost half (48%) were worried about being treated negatively by their employers because of their childcare responsibilities.

  • Two in five mothers were unaware the scheme was available to parents affected by school or nursery closures.

The TUC is calling for a temporary legal right to furlough for parents and carers, along with 10 days’ paid carers leave, a right to flexible work, an increase in sick pay and access to the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) for newly self-employed parents.

This latest report shows that there needs to be more support from employers who have working parents with childcare responsibilities in their organisations. Parents are struggling to balance childcare and work responsibilities, and despite asking for help during a difficult time they are still being denied. 

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President, Skillsoft

“These numbers show that lack of childcare support is putting a big strain on working mothers, one that risks them being pushed out of the workforce entirely. Businesses need to recognise this issue quickly and find ways of offering the support working mothers need. At its core, this means better embedding gender equality initiatives into HR policies and company culture,

“It’s critical that organisations offer support to their employees, being empathetic and understanding of individual circumstances during this uncertain time. Companies should continue to identify talented women and look for the best career paths to accelerate their growth and impact, despite juggling work and home commitments.

“During this challenging time, it’s crucial we ensure decades of progress towards gender equality in the workplace is not reversed. This means getting management and executives – who often have unfair, unconscious biases – to recognise their own decision-making processes and make the necessary changes to support and help those that need us the most. We must not forget – in the current climate, these are the people we need the most.”

Kathryn Barnes, Employment Counsel EMEA at Globalization Partners

“The obligations and options for European employers to implement family-friendly working include part-time roles, job shares, remote and home working, antenatal and maternity/paternity support, childcare support and career breaks/leave, among others. But among the most important is whether employers are genuinely able to accommodate flexible working requests.

“If an employee is struggling with the hours they are working, for example, employers should be facilitating temporary or permanent change without any impact on job security where possible. If an employer unjustifiable refuses a flexible working request the employee has the ability to challenge that in a legal forum.

In striving for workplace equality and flexibility, businesses must never forget that management and cultural authenticity determine the success of every relevant decision, activity and message. The ability of employers to enact meaningful change is directly linked to the quality of their organisational values and whether they are effectively shared across their entire team.”

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