Parents in the UK are Penalised for Flexible Working

A recent survey conducted by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed that asking for ‘family-friendly’ working hours translates to less hours, worse shifts and job loss in some cases, with 50% of low income parents struggling to handle both worklife and childcare.

The study focused on 1,000 low income parents and is part of a campaign to ensure that mums and dads can access better jobs.

Of those surveyed, 42% claimed that they ‘felt penalised’ by employers when they requested more flexible working patterns. 25% told the TUC that their shifts were subject to change at the drop of a hat due to indifferent bosses, and shockingly 19% said that they only found out their rotas a week before, making plans for childcare practically impossible.

Over half of respondents working in sectors such as retail, hospitality and social care claimed they weren’t even made aware of their rights as an employee, and 63% didn’t know they could take unpaid parental leave if needed.

This meant that 50% of parents were either taking sick leave or using their holiday days in order to provide childcare. Over 30% even stated that they had used annual leave in order to take care of their children when they were sick in the last year. Some surveyed even claimed that they weren’t permitted to take leave when their child had a medical emergency.

So as we can see, the state of affairs is frankly unacceptable and will require both a considered campaign of education on workers rights and, hopefully, legislation that will give UK parents the ability to both work a decent job and provide the childcare needed.

The TUC is itself campaigning for all working parents on zero-hours contracts to have the same parental rights as full time employees.

Though revelations from the TUC don’t stop there.

In-Work Poverty

It has also been revealed that one in eight workers struggle to afford food.

A survey of over 3,200 workers also found that close to half of respondents are worried about meeting basic household expenses such as food, transport and energy. The poll discovered that a sixth of workers weren’t turning the heating on in order to save money on energy bills, and another sixth had resorted to pawning their possessions in order to solve cash flow problems.

The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “When you come home from a long day at work, you shouldn’t have to worry whether you can afford to eat. Having a job should provide you with a decent life, but it’s not even covering the basics for many.

“Ten years on from the crash, working families are on a financial cliff edge. Paypackets are worth less and less, but bills keep rising and personal debt is at crisis levels. The government’s inaction must not last. Ministers can raise wages by scrapping public sector pay restrictions, investing to create great jobs across the country and increasing the minimum wage.”

Though, will the Tories listen?

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