Childcare during Covid-19 ‘damaging career prospects’ of working mums

This is how the coronavirus pandemic has affected mothers and pregnant women in lockdown

working mums

This is how the coronavirus pandemic has affected mothers and pregnant women in lockdown

Lockdown may be easing, but pressure on working parents continues to tighten – and more than half of working mums believe increased childcare responsibilities during the coronavirus crisis has negatively affected their career prospects.

Charity and campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed spoke with 3,686 pregnant women and mothers to better understand what the impact of Covid-19 is having on their careers so far. Research found that 57 per cent of employed mothers believe their increased childcare responsibilities during the pandemic has either impacted their career prospects or will harm them in the future.

The research also found that a huge majority (78 per cent) of working mums have found it challenging to manage childcare and their paid work during lockdown, and a further 25 per cent said their work had not been flexible enough to allow them to complete their work duties while providing childcare. Because of a lack of flexibility from employers, women have been pushed into unpaid leave, sick pay or furloughed as a direct result of having children. The survey also spoke to pregnant women, and found that 7.7 per cent are expecting to be made redundant, and of these women 20 per cent believe their pregnancy is a fact.

As the government has dropped plans to reopen all primary schools in England by the end of term, it means working parents have to continue juggling childcare duties with working from home. While the move was widely welcomed by teachers unions, concerns were raised about the added pressures this would create for working parents. In the poll almost half (49 per cent) of women admitted feeling forced to send their children back to schools or nurseries so they could focus on work.

Joeli Brearley, Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed tells Marie Claire, ‘Women are more likely to deal with homeschooling, childcare and chores around the house than men. What’s terrifying is the volume of mothers that we have spoken to who after just 12 weeks already feel that this will negatively impact their career. It’s utterly disgraceful that employers haven’t recognised that working from home with children has been a case of absolute survival.’

As Marie Claire previously reported, women are more likely than men to lose their jobs in the impending recession, as more women than men are employed in sectors that have shut down - such as restaurants, shops, hotels and retailers. But positively, the future could be brighter where flexible working is concerned, as 58 per cent of working mothers believe that homeworking will be possible once normality resumes. Here's hoping.

Olivia – who rebranded as Liv a few years ago – is a freelance digital writer at Marie Claire UK. She recently swapped guaranteed sunshine and a tax-free salary in Dubai for London’s constant cloud and overpriced public transport. During her time in the Middle East, Olivia worked for international titles including Cosmopolitan, HELLO! and Grazia. She transitioned from celebrity weekly magazine new! in London, where she worked as the publication’s Fitness & Food editor. Unsurprisingly, she likes fitness and food, and also enjoys hoarding beauty products and recycling.