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Working parents forced to depend on family members for childcare as costs soar

Just under half of working parents depend upon their own mums and dads to help out with childcare.

The annual research from Workingmums.co.uk, which polled nearly 2,000 mothers, shows that grandparents are playing a vital role in enabling parents to return to work not only by looking after the children but also by keeping childcare costs to a minimum with almost half (44%) doing it for free.


A total of 40% of those polled use nurseries, whilst the rest use child minders, friends or other family and a very small percentage (4%) use a nanny or Au Pair.

Despite the fact more than two thirds of mothers are in employment, 40% of mothers feel that the cost of childcare is preventing them from returning. Whilst 44% pay nothing for childcare, 23% pay up to £250 per month, 24% between £250 and £750 per month, 9% pay over £750 per month.

Flexible working remains firmly on parents’ agendas with all employed respondents agreeing that flexibility was important to them. The vast majority of workers (69%) agree that their job is flexible with 77% finding that their employer was supportive when they returned to work. Just over half (53%) of those who requested flexible or part time working upon their return to work, felt that they got what they requested, or reached a good compromise.


Flexible hours for full time jobs, regular work at home and the offer of part-time jobs were the three factors that made a company family friendly. Flexi-hours topped the research as being the most important aspect (76%) even surpassing part time hours, which also rated as important (66%). Half (50%) of those who were not working said that the lack of appropriate (57%) and available (53%) flexible jobs presented further barriers for their return to work.

Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said: "This year’s survey shows just how important grandparents are in helping parents get back into the workplace. Working mums are able to contribute significantly to the British economy as a result of their parents looking after their children. Without their help, it would be impossible for many mums to go back to work – grandparents not only help with the childcare but also keep childcare costs to a minimum."

"This survey confirms that working mums are increasingly relying on grandparents for childcare," comments Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus. "Families are under increasing financial pressure and grandparents are helping to bridge the child care gap. It is time we start recognising the growing contribution of grandparents."

But the news comes as AXA ICAS LifeManagement Services reports parents feel "more supported in the workplace than ever".

Jean Wilcock, operations manager, LifeManagement Services explains: "The introduction of legislation supporting parents who work and are looking to go back to work after having a child, has increased over the last five years. Changes such as flexible working, childcare support and changes in maternity and paternity rights have helped achieve more balance in their home lives while also being able to pursue professional success.

"AXA ICAS is encouraging organisations to invest in their employees for the long term. Employee turnover costs can be as much as £12,000 per employee, whereas investing in staff by providing adequate health and well-being support, including maternity and childcare support, will only cost a fraction of that."