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What to do when employees can’t get childcare

Trades Union Congress (TUC) research has found every English region is in a childcare recruitment crisis, so what can employers do if workers can’t access childcare?

In the TUC study, nearly all (95%) of English councils were having difficulty recruiting childcare workers with the right skills and experience to do the job.

The study found childcare practitioners earn only 56% of the median salary for all employees (£18,400), while childcare assistants earn 58% of the median wage (£19,000). 

More on childcare: Childcare in the UK becoming less affordable and reliable

The shortage of childcare workers is putting working parents in a difficult position according to Lauren Fabianski, head of campaigns and communications at motherhood charity Pregnant Then Screwed.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Employers need to recognise that many parents are losing access to childcare overnight as nurseries are buckling under the financial pressures, and because they cannot run on empty. 

“Offering employees flexible working, to be able to work around childcare challenges, is the number-one way that employers can help parents. We need to empower parents to be able to make work work for them, not punish them for struggling."

As the cost of living crisis continues, childcare is also becoming too expensive for many. 

Three quarters (76%) of mothers who pay for childcare say it no longer makes financial sense for them to work, according to a March study by Pregnant then Screwed. 

A quarter of parents who rely on childcare (26%) said it now costs them more than 75% of their take-home pay.

More on childcare: Rising childcare costs outstrip maternity pay

Lance Beare, CEO of flexible childcare service Pebble, said employers should tailor benefits packages to parents to retain workers.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Employers need to ask their staff what they need today. On-site yoga classes and duvet days are great, but what about supporting childcare needs for parents? 

“Without childcare, parents can't work, and if parents are losing access to their local nursery then employers should look at how they can enable parents to navigate this.

"This could be by supporting them as they find a new solution, be that a nanny, a new nursery or childminder or with a company scheme that contributes to the costs that parents endure. 

“Helping parents to navigate the childcare struggle is an incredibly attractive benefit to parents today, especially as we edge closer to a recession."