Nearly two-thirds of working mums with primary school age children do not have sufficient childcare for the six-week school summer holidays,according to a new survey published by the TUC and campaigner Mother Pukka.

And the situation is even worse for single mums, with more than three in four (76%) telling the TUC that they don’t have adequate childcare for the upcoming holidays.

At the end of June, the TUC and campaigner Mother Pukka launched a call for evidence for working mums to share their experiences of how they will manage their work and childcare commitments this school summer holiday.

More than 36,000 mums got in touch. Working mums across the public and private sector reported huge challenges in balancing their work and childcare, with three in five  saying they would find managing childcare in the holidays more difficult this year than previously.

Previous TUC research has shown that working mums have picked up the lion’s share of the increase in caring responsibilities during the Covid-19 lockdowns and school closures. And this survey reveals that these school holidays will be yet another struggle for working mums.

Mums told the TUC they are juggling a variety of means to try and manage their childcare during the school holiday – and many are relying on being able to work more flexibly than before to help them cope:

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Women have borne the brunt of the pandemic, on the front line in key worker roles and at home. Working mums picked up the lion’s share of caring responsibilities while schools were closed, with many sacrificing hours and pay to do so.

“But while restrictions may be lifting and ministers talk about us getting back to normal, working mums are still feeling the impact of the pandemic. Most mums told us they don’t have enough childcare for the upcoming school holidays and are now facing a huge challenge managing their work and caring responsibilities this summer.

“It shouldn’t be this difficult. If ministers don’t act, we risk turning the clock back on generations of progress women have made at work.

“It’s clear parents are relying on flexibility more than ever to cope with the extra demands posed by the crisis. Let’s make sure everyone has stronger legal rights to flexible working arrangements.

“And I’d urge employers to be as supportive as they can to their staff who have kids, and not force them back to the office if working at home helps them balance their work and childcare.”

Founder of Mother Pukka Anna Whitehouse said: “There are approximately 62 days of holiday a year, and the average employee holiday allowance is 25 days. The maths simply doesn’t add up.

“If we are going to recover from this pandemic and ensure the playing field is level for men and women at some point in the future, we need childcare to be part of our infrastructure – as important as roads, railways and signposts.

“If it’s tough for a two-parent family, have a moment to consider a single parent family. The current system has parents at breaking point.

“Together with the TUC, I want to not just break the cycle, but rebuild a whole new way of working for parents which doesn’t leave them logging off from their careers or disconnected from their family.”


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