Hunt’s free childcare pledge
With the recent announcement from UK chancellor, Jeremy Hunt which will reform the government's childcare offer, two-thirds of parents have stated they are planning on returning to work.
The planned reforms will offer 30 hours of free childcare for working families with children aged between nine months and four years. (But it won't be rolled out until 2024, perhaps after the next general election).
This is excellent news for the economy and a huge relief for parents, many of whom struggle with the cost of childcare.
Hunt's free childcare pledge will allow many parents to decide to return to the workforce with confidence.
New research about returning to work
Two-thirds (65%) of parents with children aged under 3 (who currently get no funded childcare) say the promise of free childcare, presented in the 2023 Spring Budget, will encourage them to enter or rejoin the workforce, according to new research by the global hiring platform Indeed.
The UK has some of the highest childcare costs in the world, accounting for nearly a third (29%) of a family’s income. This typically leads to parents reducing their working hours as it makes more financial sense for them to care for their children.
To lure more parents back to work and reduce economic inactivity, the government announced 30 hours of free childcare a week would be provided to children aged nine months to school age.
The research found 65% of parents who are either employed, unemployed, or on parental leave believed free childcare would motivate them to seek additional working hours, increasing to 77% among those who have previously given up work due to the cost of childcare.
Amongst those who are not currently working but are looking to return, 44% would look for a part-time role, compared to the 22% who will seek full-time employment.
Parents who have reduced their work due to childcare expenses plan to work around 26 hours a week, a 78% increase from the 14 hours they currently work, which equates to an extra 12 hours a week.
Additionally, the research showed that parents who earn £15,000 or less plan to double their working week from 12 hours to 24 hours when the scheme is implemented, while those earning £55,000 and above plan to increase their hours from 22 hours to 29 hours a week (a 33% increase).
62% of fathers, and 81% of mothers who are not working due to the high cost of childcare reported this has caused them to sacrifice their careers.
For mothers, the opportunity to progress their careers was a significant incentive to increase their work hours or return to work (41%), while fathers felt similar to a lesser degree (16%).
Other incentives motivating parents to either go back to work or increase their hours included:
- Increased household earnings (65%)
- Mental well-being (36%)
- A sense of purpose (22%)
Despite the free childcare pledge, parents still face barriers to returning to work or increasing their hours, with the most common reasons being:
- mental health (28%)
- lack of flexible hours (26%)
- childcare still being too expensive (25%)
- lack of remote work opportunities (19%)
Flexible working hours (75%) were more desirable than remote working opportunities (43%), and an understanding manager (40%) was cited as a significant source of support for those wanting to ease into more work.
Flexible jobs for parents
redwigwam is an excellent option for parents who want to return to the workforce. The platform allows them to use their skills, gain new experience and build upon their careers by connecting parents with flexible, part-time or remote work opportunities.
Through the platform, parents can find job roles to fit in with their family life, allowing them to continue their careers while caring for their children.
By returning to work, parents can also boost their income, and enjoy the financial freedom and security which comes with it.
This can lead to the financial freedom to save money for holidays, provide better care for their children, or even make long-term investments.
And of course, returning to work can also help boost confidence and allow parents to stay socially connected to colleagues and friends.
The challenges of returning to work
Returning to work after having a child can be difficult and, for some parents, may not be the right decision.
One of the main concerns is the cost involved in returning to work. Childcare is not cheap - although does come with the assurance your child is being well looked after and is enjoying the benefits of social interaction with other children.
Another issue is parents feel they don't spend enough time with their family. You may not be able to see them as much as you would like, especially if your job involves long hours or travel. This can lead to guilt or worry about missing out on important moments in their life.
Finally, returning to work can cause a lot of stress.
Juggling a career and parenting can be challenging, and sometimes you feel like you are being pulled in different directions.
It’s important to consider whether you can manage this figure out how you are going to find a balance between work and family life.
Deciding to return to work can be difficult - even with the promise of funded childcare, so it’s essential to consider all aspects of the situation.
Do you have the right childcare for your family? Will you be able to afford the cost of childcare? Do you have enough time for your family and your job? Can you make your job and family life compatible?
These are all critical questions that must be addressed before making the decision.
Finally, it’s essential to consider the emotional aspect of returning to work. Do you feel comfortable leaving your children in someone else’s care? How will you manage your guilt? Can you stay in touch with them while at work?
Using a flexible work provider like redwigwam could be the perfect option for you - work as much, or as little as you like and ease yourself back into the workplace gently!