Two in five low-paid mums and dads penalised by bad bosses

TUC study reveals

Asking for family-friendly working patterns leads to them getting fewer hours, worse shifts and in some cases losing their jobs, low-paid mums and dads report

Half (47 per cent) of low-paid young mums and dads are struggling to manage work and childcare, a new TUC report has revealed today.

More than two in five (42 per cent) said they felt penalised at work when they asked for flexibility – telling the TUC they are subsequently given fewer hours, worse shifts or even losing their job.

There are nearly 370,000 young working parents in London. The capital has seen significant growth in insecure work as well.  For example, agency work, zero hours contracts and low paid self-employment has accounted for 17 per cent of new jobs between 2011 and 2016. Workers on these contracts often don’t qualify for vital employment rights that help balance work and home life. Young mums and dads in insecure jobs are more likely to be given shifts at short notice and work irregular hours, making it much more difficult to plan childcare. 

The new study of more than 1,000 low-paid mums and dads is part of the TUC’s new campaign for better jobs for mums and dads. A survey and focus groups with low-paid parents found that today’s irregular hours are to blame for low-paid parents finding it harder to manage work and childcare. 

And many feel at the mercy of indifferent employers who can change their working hours on a whim. One in four (26 per cent) parents told the TUC they had their shifts changed at short notice, and one in five (19 per cent) had been given their rota less than a week in advance, making planning childcare very difficult.

More than than half (58 per cent) of mums and dads working in low-paid sectors like retail, hospitality and social care told the TUC that they didn’t know what rights at work they were entitled to. Nearly two in three (63 per cent) weren’t aware of their right to unpaid parental leave.

 As a result half (49 per cent) weren’t using one or more of their legal rights to time off. That meant they ended up taking sick leave or holiday to cover childcare – nearly one in three (29 per cent) had resorted to taking annual leave to cover their child being sick in the last year – and some were even prevented from leaving to look after their children in an emergency.

 These working parents felt that language about “flexible working” and “work-life balance” didn’t apply to workers like them.

 The TUC is calling for all workers – including mums and dads – to have the right to be notified of their shifts one month in advance. That will mean working parents can plan childcare commitments and do their jobs.

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