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New report: working parents want flexibility and better childcare options

Bright Horizons has published its annual Modern Families Index report, which reveals the latest trends and challenges facing working parents and carers in the UK. The report, based on a survey of 3,000 working parents across all regions and sectors, revealed the growing disconnect between the support parents want from their employers and the help currently on offer.

Some of the key findings from the report are:

  • 42% are looking for another job - an increase from last year's figures. The majority are looking for higher wages but 32% want a job that gives them more support for family life. 
  • 63% of staff who are caring for a disabled, unwell or adult child are likely to look for new employment.
  • 67% of working parents had to take a day or more off for childcare at short notice in the last 12 months, and 35% needed five days or more. Over three-quarters said they would need to consider their childcare options before taking up a promotion or a new job.
  • 91% said that their caring responsibilities have some impact on their work or career and three in ten said this affected the quality of their work.
  • 65% had concerns about being able to access childcare if the government's funding plans created more demand.

Are employers becoming more “family friendly”?

Working parents and carers say that they have noticed a decline in the level of support provided by their employers compared to the previous year. They also feel less confident about getting help from their employer if they are struggling with family-related problems. 

Although 72% said that they feel confident their employer will take account of their family responsibilities and treat them fairly, this is down from 75% last year.

Is the mental health of staff improving? 

More than 25%, expressed worries about their own or their partner's mental well-being and around two-thirds of parents had concerns about their children's mental health. Women are particularly affected, with three out of four women saying they carry the mental load for parenting. 

Women also report higher burnout and poorer work-life balance compared to men. Burnout was particularly acute in the education sector.

Is the cost of living still having an impact on staff?

Yes. 53% of women and 36% of men are worried about being able to afford their bills. 

What can employers do to support staff with these issues?

The report also asked working parents to list the benefits and services they look for in a good employer. Most of these are financial including:

  • Benefits that help with the cost of living (37%)
  • Employer-subsidised regular childcare (25%)
  • Employer-subsidised back-up or emergency care (24%)
  • Enhanced parental/dependant leave (31%)
  • Choice of benefits (34%)

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