The impact that high childcare costs have on families has been highlighted across the media over recent months. Most recently, attention has turned to how rising costs are affecting parental working patterns.
Childcare should support working parents, but in many cases the high cost can be the family’s largest monthly outgoing and can be the equivalent to one parent’s take home pay. If this is the case, some parents have to make the difficult decision as to whether or not it is financially viable to stay in work.
Our latest Childcare Costs Survey showed that high childcare costs forced almost half of parents to reduce their hours of work in order to manage financially. In the majority of cases, it is the mother who decides to leave work or reverts to part-time hours.
Many of the mothers surveyed had spent time gaining qualifications and skills and were therefore prepared to work at a financial loss to keep their jobs and continue on their career path. Others felt they had no choice to but to reduce their hours, leave work or become underemployed – a decision which makes financial sense but comes with the risk of long-term career damage.
Family-friendly working policies, such as enabling flexible working and providing Childcare Vouchers, can help employers retain talented staff and help employees who are struggling to balance their work and family lives. When such policies are available to staff, there are both short and long-term benefits for employers and employees alike.