Parents want more help from employers to balance work with caring for family

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Parents and carers need better support to help them to stay in work, according to new research.

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A report released today by Coram Family and Childcare and Unison has found that 65 per cent of British adults believe the Government and employers should do more to help parents and carers balance their work and caring responsibilities.

More than four-fifths of respondents (82 per cent) said having more control over their hours would help them balance work and care.

The research, Holding on or moving up? Supporting carers and parents in employment, also found that women were more likely than men to reduce earnings in order to balance work and care.

According to the responses to the polling and interviews carried out in the report:

  • nearly half of British women (48 per cent) think they would have to reduce their working hours in order to meet their caring responsibilities if working full time and/or a parent
  • just under a third of men (32 per cent) think they would have to reduce their working hours in order to meet their caring responsibilities if working full time and/or a parent
  • 20 per cent of women think they would have to leave their job if working full time and/or a parent or carer
  • 12 per cent of men think they would have to leave their job if working full time and/or a parent or carer 


There are around 9 million working parents and 2 million working carers in England, representing a third of the workforce, according to Coram Family and Childcare.

In order to better support parents and carers, the organisation has called for employers to adopt best practice around supporting employees with caring responsibilities. It has also called for the Government to:

  • introduce up to 10 days per year of paid carer’s leave
  • introduce the right to up to a year of unpaid leave for carers
  • support employers to adopt best practice by providing free resources and training
  • prioritise understanding and addressing the issues carers and parents face in entering, retaining and progressing in work


Ellen Broomé, chief executive of Coram Family and Childcare, said, ‘Carers and parents hold vast knowledge and experience, but too often their caring responsibilities mean they struggle to stay in work. While for some this will be a positive choice, for others it means they miss out on earnings and employers miss out on talent.

‘Our research finds that we can do better: some employers are doing a great job of making adjustments that allow parents to stay in work. It is time for employers and Government to listen to the public support for action and to make sure everyone can get the support they need.’

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, added, ‘Helping parents and carers to juggle work and home responsibilities makes sense for everyone involved.

‘In workplaces where people feel their caring role is supported there is less staff turnover, lower stress levels and talented individuals are retained. That’s a win-win for both employers and employees.’

Flexible working

Meanwhile, research commissioned by McDonald’s UK in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Working Mums has suggested parents want more flexible working patterns.

The poll of 1,100 parents across the UK, conducted by YouGov, found that more than three quarters of parents think flexible working would allow them to juggle work with home commitments, yet 73 per cent said they did not have that option in their current role.

Nearly 60 per cent of parents said they wanted to work more flexibly and would prefer to start work between 6am and 8am.

Only 5 per cent opted for a traditional ‘9 to 5’ day.

Gillian Nissim, founder of Working Mums, said, ‘The potential to rethink how we work, where we work, when we work and why we work is immense – especially for parents. Growing numbers of people with children are feeling frustrated with the strait jacket of working a 9 to 5 and want a job that fits better with their commitments outside of work.

'This research further illustrates how flexible working can be mutually beneficial for both employees and employers, providing more motivated, loyal and productive employees.’

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