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45% of mums feel 'trapped 'in jobs below their pay

45% of mothers say that a lack of wrap-around care is making them work below their experience level.

Research reveals that almost half of mothers in the UK feel trapped in their jobs due to a lack of wrap-around care (defined as before- and after- school clubs for children aged 5-11years), with 48% admitting to feeling that a lack of before and after school care will prevent them from being promoted in their role, and 45% of mothers revealing that they are currently working below their experience and pay grade to fit around school hours.

This new research of 2,000 mothers across the UK, was commissioned by the childcare service Koru Kids to highlight the realities that parents are facing with regards to before and after school care in schools. It found that a significant 1 in 10 schools do not offer any before or after school care. Of those schools that do offer it, 12% of parents can’t afford to use it and 17% would like access to more care than they are currently able to. This shortage is emphasised further, with 4% of parents not able to access space in school wrap-around care for their child.

Rachel Carrell, Founder, and CEO of Koru Kids explains, ‘The results from our survey are incredibly frustrating. The school day and working hours just simply don’t add up. Clearly, something has to give, and what’s giving way is mums’ careers and livelihoods.’

She continues, ‘We surveyed mums because we know that it is unfortunately still mums who are taking on the lions’ share of childcare, a pattern which begins during maternity leave.’

The research revealed that a significant 1 in 5 (20%) of mothers who don’t have access to wrap-around care need to work fewer hours as a result, with a further 20% of mothers revealing that it is this lack of available care that has held them back in their careers, or has meant that they have missed out on a promotion as a result (16%).

In contrast, when you look at the mothers who have wrap-around care for their children their careers are reaping the benefits. 93% of mothers said that having wrap-around care positively impacts their future career progression, 79% of mothers with wrap-around care feel that they are working to their pay grade or above. Additionally, a huge 91% of mothers with wrap-around care feel that having this care has allowed them to focus on work and further their careers.

The affordability of wrap-around care is a huge factor for why some parents aren’t able to access it. In fact, 25% of mothers can’t afford to use wrap-around care at all, or as much as they would like to. On average women feel that they would need to earn an additional £3,729 per year to comfortably afford wrap-around care, but for many, this is a pipe dream.

Rachel Carrell, Founder, and CEO of Koru Kids explains, ‘People sometimes assume when their kids start school their childcare problems will be over, but for many parents, it actually gets worse. Parents, especially mums, are running themselves ragged trying to fit their jobs around school hours, unable to rely on the wraparound care that they need. In 2019 Boris promised a £1bn injection into childcare including wrap-around care and holiday clubs, and yet this never materialised, leaving 45% of mums trapped in jobs below their pay grade. The government may say that Covid has changed everything, and we agree - it has brought our sector to its knees and parents are paying the price.’

The government's 2019 manifesto promised an investment of £1 billion for childcare, including before- and after-school clubs. And just last month the Government’s In-Work Progression Commission identified a lack of flexible wraparound childcare as a barrier to pay and career progression, particularly for the 62% of low-paid workers that are women. It called on the Department of Education to expand the provision and affordability of wraparound care - a recommendation supported by Koru Kids.

When asked whether the government should be investing more into before and after school care, an overwhelming 86% of mothers said Yes.

The lack of wrap-around care is taking its toll on the mental health of mothers. 56% say that the lack of care is affecting their mental health, 25% admit to feeling anxious and 22% feel completely fatigued. Worryingly 15% of mothers without wrap-around care admitted to just not feeling themselves, and 1 in 10 (10%) mothers revealed it is a cause of arguments with their partner, over finances, and pick-ups.

Rachel Carrell continues, ‘Mums are working fewer hours and earning less as a result, all because there is not enough wraparound care. If the government is committed to rebuilding our economy post-Covid, it’s critical that includes enabling more women to progress out of lower-paid jobs and reach their true potential, and to look after their emotional wellbeing.

Anna Whitehouse, Campaigner, and Journalist says, "What we are asking of mums is mission impossible. Mums are left legging it from pillar to post, from work to school, and back again to paper over the cracks of a childcare system that doesn't work. Quite frankly we're worn out, and as this research shows, we're stuck. We can't win. I fully support this ask of the government to level up its support for before and after school care, because if we increase funding and support for mums with childcare then and only then will we see a real shift in the gender pay gap."

Koru Kids has started a petition to Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education, urging him to fulfill the government’s investment commitments in order to support parents who are struggling to make childcare work. They are asking members of the public to sign this letter, aiming for 10,000 signatures.

Accompanying photo to blog thanks to ergonofis

Original blog posting date: Oct 06, 2021

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