71% of working mothers have had their furlough requests refused

71% of working mothers have had their furlough requests refused

Almost three-quarters (71%) of working mothers who have applied for furlough following the latest school closures have had their requests turned down, according to research by Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The study, which polled 51,735 mothers, found that 78% have not been furloughed by their employers, while 40% were unaware that the furlough scheme was available to parents affected by school or nursery closures. The current coronavirus job retention scheme (GCJRS) currently allows organisations to furlough working parents who are unable to work due to a lack of childcare support during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

Furthermore, the vast majority (90%) of respondents mentioned that their anxiety and stress levels have increased during the latest lockdown, while 48% are worried about being treated negatively by their employers due to their childcare responsibilities.

Additional findings revealed that around half (44%) of working mothers are worried about the financial impact of having to take time off would have on their household overheads. A quarter (25%) have used annual leave to manage their childcare responsibilities, however 18% have had to reduce their working hours, with an additional 7% being forced to take unpaid leave.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary at TUC, said: “The safety of school staff and children must always come first. But the government’s lack of support for working parents is causing huge financial hardship and stress – and hitting low-paid mums and single parents hardest.

“Just like in the first lockdown, working mothers are shouldering the majority of childcare. Tens of thousands of mums have told us they are despairing. It is neither possible nor sustainable for them to work as normal while looking after their children and supervising schoolwork.

“Making staff take weeks of unpaid leave is not the answer. Managers must do the right thing and offer maximum flexibility to mums and dads who are unable to work because of childcare. And as a last resort, parents must have a temporary right to be furloughed where their boss will not agree.

“The UK’s parental leave system is one of the worst in Europe. It is time for the government to give all parents the right to work flexibly, plus at least 10 days’ paid carers leave each year.”