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Better Jobs for Mums and Dads, Research Report

"17. It should be the default position that all staff can benefit from positive flexible working practices. This would especially help parents manage their childcare. Employers should have to justify where it is not possible to advertise a role flexibly. This would be a big step towards changing workplace culture and creating a more supportive climate for young parents to work flexibly and manage their childcare needs."

One of many recommendations in this TUC research report. https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Better_Jobs_For_Mums_And_Dads_2017_AW_Digital_0.pdf


"This report is a window into the ordinary working lives of mums and dads. Its findings won’t be news to those parents trying to give their kids a great start in life as well as do a good job at work. But it reminds the rest of us that, despite the advances of the last two decades in familyfriendly rights, the combination of working and bringing up children is still too hard. And that’s doubly so for those parents who are the focus of this report: younger workers with school-age children, earning less than the UK median income, many of whom work in jobs with unpredictable hours.

Anyone who has raised kids knows how tough it can be. I certainly remember the pressure of running against the clock between the nursery and the job. I think my generation of working mums hoped it would get easier for those who followed us: but instead, the juggling act is getting more difficult for many lower-income parents, struggling to cope with zero-hours contracts, variable shift patterns and unsupportive bosses.

We shouldn’t discount the legal changes that have progressively given more rights to pregnant women, new mums and dads, and the parents of older children. But during this project, we heard lower income parents tell us over and again that concepts like “work-life balance”, “family friendly work” and “flexible working” didn’t feel like they applied to them. They thought these were for other people – women with children who worked in offices, in betterpaying jobs, who could afford to reduce their pay. When we talked them through the rights that they already have in law, they didn’t know about them – and worse, they couldn’t imagine taking them up, because they were afraid to do so.

This report is about those mums and dads – and it’s intended to stimulate a conversation about how we change the world of work to make sure they can simultaneously be even better parents and do well at work. All the solutions we propose are grounded in what mums and dads told us would really work for them.

I want everyone who reads this report to act. We need legislative changes to make jobs better and to tweak existing familyfriendly rights so they work for today’s working mums and dads. Employers need to lead the culture change we need to support mums and dads at work, and stop the managers they employ making the lives of parents harder. And everyone at work – managers and colleagues alike – need to think about how they create an atmosphere that supports parents, rather than undermines them.

There is a key role for unions too. We need to make sure that wherever we are recognised, we are bargaining for a better deal for mums and dads. Unions already represent more than 300,000 younger parents. Being in a union is one of the best ways to make sure you can get your rights as a working dad or mum. But currently, just nine per cent of 21–30s in the private sector are members of trade unions. As these young workers settle down and start families they’ll hit the same barriers and problems we’ve written about in this report. So we need to get out there and organise workplace by workplace to make sure more mums and dads get those protections that only unions can offer.

I am hugely proud of this work, and hope it can make a real difference to how we think about helping out the next generation of parents in the workplace. And above all, I’d like to thank all the young parents who gave up time with their kids to tell us about their lives and help us with our research.

Frances O’Grady TUC General Secretary"