More than 70% of working mum furlough requests ‘rejected’ following lockdown school closures

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Over 70 per cent of furlough requests from working mums were rejected by employers, according to the Trades Union Congress.

And huge numbers of working parents – two in five – did not realise they have been entitled to request lockdown leave since March.

A TUC survey of more than 50,000 women found more than seven in ten (71%) of those who asked following school closures were turned down.

The job retention scheme currently allows bosses to furlough parents who can’t work due to school or nursery closures, the Mirror reports.

Now, the TUC is urging ministers to clarify that furlough can be used by both private and public sector employers so staff can look after their kids.

The union body is calling for an emergency temporary right to furlough for working parents if employers refuse.

TUC bosses also say employers should discuss all the options with staff, guaranteeing them protections when they return.

Almost half of respondents to the survey fear they will be treated negatively by their employers because of difficulties with childcare.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The safety of school staff and children must always come first.

“But the Government’s lack of support for working parents is causing huge financial hardship and stress – and hitting low-paid mums and single parents hardest.

“Just like in the first lockdown, mums are shouldering the majority of childcare. Tens of thousands of mums have told us they are despairing.

“It’s neither possible nor sustainable for them to work as normal, while looking after their children and supervising schoolwork.



TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady

“Making staff take weeks of unpaid leave isn’t the answer.

“Bosses must do the right thing and offer maximum flexibility to mums and dads who can’t work because of childcare.

“And as a last resort, parents must have a temporary right to be furloughed where their boss will not agree.”

The survey, conducted between January 7 and 10, found that most working parents – 78 per cent – haven’t been offered furlough by their employers.

And of those who asked for furlough 71 per cent – one in 16 of the total respondents – had their requests refused.

Around half (44%) of mums told the TUC they were worried about the impact having to take time off work would have on their household finances.

A quarter (25%) were using annual leave to manage their childcare.

But nearly one in five (18%) have been forced to reduce their working hours and one in 14 (7%) are taking unpaid leave.

Campaigner Anna Whitehouse, founder of website Mother Pukka, launched a call for evidence with the TUC for working mums to share their experiences.

She told the Mirror: “What working parents have been tasked with in lockdown is not humanly possible.

“You’re looking at an average eight hour working day, six hour school day, 12 hours of parenting wrapped around that – that’s 26 hours in a 24 hour day.

“I’m hearing daily from women who are stepping back, standing down and logging off because they’re burning out. Some are quitting out of choice, many are not.

“One thing that can change right now is businesses offering the right to flexible furlough. Companies need to step up for parents before we step back to the 1950s.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “It’s been clear since the first lockdown that employers can furlough eligible employees who are required to shield, or those with childcare responsibilities, including because of school closures.”

By the end of March 2020, 6.8 million people were on to furlough, and this number peaked at 8.9m in early May.

It has been falling ever since.



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