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Half of parents consider quitting over office mandates

Childcare costs are up by almost £200 per week

Half (50%) of UK working parents are looking for new roles because of their employers' return-to-office mandates, according to flexible childcare provider Pebble.

Lance Beare, CEO of Pebble told HR magazine that working parents are being pushed out of their current jobs by childcare costs.

He said: “When you force fixed days at short notice, parents are forced to change their childcare at the drop of a hat – and this just isn't always possible.

"We need to enable parents to find flexible work and childcare. The current situation is simply unacceptable and is costly for businesses too.”

The study found 60% of parents struggled to juggle work and childcare, while two in five said that they are struggling to afford the extra childcare costs.

More than half (53%) of parents have felt extra pressure to be in the office following the pandemic.

On average, UK employers are requesting an additional two days per week in the office. Resulting in higher childcare costs equating to an average of £166 per week more than before.

Read more: Childcare costs forcing mothers to quit work

“These findings are heart-breaking," said Charlotte Speak, a specialist parental support consultant.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said that as childcare costs increase, employers must shape policy around working parents' realities. 

"Behind those stats are real people who are being put in impossible situations, and we’re losing talent that we desperately need in the workforce. 

“Whilst the wider childcare system must be reformed, employers have the power to influence the world of work for parents and carers.”

The majority of parents (63%) said they would like their bosses to be more understanding, with 45% of the opinion that parents should be given the right to choose whether they come into the office for any additional time or not.

Graham James, director at Sodexo Engage said employers need to embrace flexibility as a permanent feature of work.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “When you're implementing a return-to-office policy, ensure it accommodates the unique needs of parents. Allow them to adapt their schedules to meet their childcare needs.

“By embracing flexible work arrangements and ensuring ready access to essential resources, we pave the way for a brighter future, not only for our organisations but also for the families it supports.”

Read more: Childcare in the UK becoming less affordable and reliable

Extra time in the office also resulted in employees spending an extra £90 on travel, or £133 for Londoners.

Almost half (45%) of parents want financial support when they are asked to come into the office for extra days.

Breare added that employers can help through their benefits package: “We would encourage employers to implement a benefit scheme that helps to subsidise childcare costs.

“Employers need to look at their company benefits and reassess what people need support with today; on-site yoga and pizza lunches are nice, but what about supporting the childcare needs of parents so that they can afford to keep working instead?”

All surveys were conducted between 19 August 2023 and 25 August 2023. The sample comprised 2,004 parents with children up to the age of 11 who work in an office.