A new report from work-life balance charity Working Families claims that there remains a pressing need for increased support for working parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report is informed by queries to the charity’s free legal advice helpline, which the charity says have quadrupled since the start of the pandemic. Since mid-March, over 36,000 people have accessed the charity’s coronavirus-focused legal advice web pages.

The report claims to highlight the ongoing challenges working parents are facing as a result of COVID-19, which greatly increased when schools and childcare settings were closed on 20 March 2020. Many parents are being forced to take unpaid leave or are losing their jobs, bringing economic uncertainty and hardship at the worst possible time.

Below is a summary of the ongoing issues and the charity’s recommendations to the government for going further in supporting working parents during this pandemic:

  • Furlough: Currently, the Job Retention Scheme is for is for employers whose operations have been affected by COVID-19. The government needs to provide clear guidance that employers can ‘furlough’ (i.e. seek reimbursement of 80% of wages, up to £2,500 a month) parents whose childcare commitments make working from home impossible. Otherwise, parents will have to rely on unpaid leave and benefits.
  • Reduced-hours Working: Currently, employers do not have an option to ‘top up’ the income of parents who may have reduced their hours because they are caring for their children, too.  We’re urging the government to explore options enabling employers that need to, to claim for the hours parents can’t work, so they aren’t disadvantaged compared to furloughed employees who aren’t working at all.
  • Social Security: Clearly, not all employers will be able to support parents to work at home or make use of ‘furloughing’. So, we’re calling for a significant uplift in Child Benefit payments for the duration of the pandemic—for existing and new claimants – to capture parents who have taken unpaid leave or been dismissed as a result of COVID-19.
  • Pregnancy and Maternity: Pregnant women have been told by the government that they may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. The charity has received a raft of enquiries about this, particularly from pregnant women unable to work from home. The government must make it clear that, where this isn’t possible, employers should be suspending pregnant women on full pay until their maternity leave starts.

 

In separate news, Working Families has announced the shortlist for its 2020 Best Practice Awards. The awards celebrate employers whose stand-out cultures and working practices are leading the way in flexible and employee-friendly workplaces.

The shortlisted organisations are:

Best for Mothers?– sponsored by Arnold Clark?

CDC Group

Experian

Royal Air Force

 

Best for Fathers – sponsored by Nationwide

Aviva

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Zurich Insurance

 

Best for Carers & Eldercare – sponsored by Crown Prosecution Service

Centrica

Civil Service

Nationwide

 

Best Family Network

Barclays

British Army

Royal Bank of Scotland

Santander

 

Best for Mental Health & Wellbeing – sponsored by Schroders?

Bank of England

Crown Prosecution Service

Wates

 

Best Innovation

Pinsent Mason

Royal Air Force

 

Best for Flexible Working sponsored by Schroders

Civil Service

Hill Dickinson

Pitney Bowes

Royal Air Force

Zurich Insurance

 

Best Returner Programme

Essex County Council with Capita Resourcing

UBS

 

Best Small Private Sector Employer

ILF Scotland

The post Working parents still not getting enough support to deal with pandemic appeared first on Workplace Insight.

Source: Work Place Insight

 

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