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14 January, 2021 Open access

Seven out of ten requests for furlough from working mothers have been turned down following latest school closures

TUC calls for government action to promote rights under existing furlough rules and a new legal right for parents and carers who face disrupted childcare to access the furlough scheme

Seven out of ten requests for furlough from working mothers have been turned down following the latest school closures, according to the TUC.

In Working mums: Paying the price, published today, the TUC sets out the results of a survey of more than 50,000 working mothers undertaken last week, who responded to a call for evidence to share their experiences of how they are managing their work and childcare commitments during the current Covid-19 lockdown.

The survey shows that -

While the TUC acknowledges that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows emplyers to furlough parents who can’t work due to a lack of childcare, it highlights that many parents are missing out because the scheme is not promoted to them. In addition, the TUC raises concerns that some employers are refusing to furlough those who request it, leaving parents in an impossible situation where they are forced to reduce their hours at work, take unpaid leave and annual leave to cope, or leave their job altogether.

As a result, the TUC calls on the government to do everything it can to encourage employers to use the existing scope of the scheme to support parents and those required to shield, including by -

In addition, the TUC calls for the government to introduce a new temporary right to furlough -

'... a legal right to access the furlough scheme for parents and those with caring responsibilities who have had these significantly disrupted due to coronavirus restrictions, and people who cannot work because they are required to shield.'

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said today -

‘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, mums are shouldering the majority of childcare. Tens of thousands of mums have told us they are despairing. It’s 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 isn't the answer. Bosses must do the right thing and offer maximum flexibility to mums and dads who can’t work because of childcare. And as a last resort, parents must have a temporary right to be furloughed where their boss will not agree.’

For more information, see TUC poll: 7 in 10 requests for furlough turned down for working mums.