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TUC report on young working parents


TUC, report, mums and dads at work, their rights, work and childcare, zero hour contracts, rights at workFlexible working practices are causing young parents real difficulties.

The TUC published a report recently looking at the ordinary working lives of mums and dads, and 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 family-friendly 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.

During the research for this project, the TUC heard lower income parents saying 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 better-paying jobs, who could afford to reduce their pay.

When the TUC 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.

Half of young parents (51 per cent) working in low-paid jobs like retail, social care and childcare have a boss who’s never spoken to them about their workplace policies to time off to look after their kids.

And the report found, for example, that flexible working practices are causing young parents real difficulties.

This includes shifts changing at short notice, rotas being given out with less than one weeks’ notice and uncertainty over shift finishing times; 19 per cent of young parents reported that they had been given a rota with less than one weeks’ notice, within the last 12 months.

And there is a real lack of awareness of key employment rights which could help young working parents.

For example, 63 per cent of young parents are not aware of the right to unpaid parental leave.

Parents also reported that the existing rights could be improved.

And this report  ‘Better jobs for mums and dads’ is about those parents – and the intention is to now stimulate a conversation about how we change the world of work to make sure they can be both even better parents and do well at work.

The TUC has made 16 recommendations for the government following this extensive research, and all the solutions the TUC proposes are grounded in what parents said would really work for them.

These recommendations include:

1 – Rights for all: All working parents – including zero-hours contracts workers, agency workers and those in casual work – should have access to the same rights, from day one in their jobs. This includes all family friendly rights, which are often only available to “employees”.

2 – Notice of working hours: All workers should be given notice of their shifts at least one month in advance.

3 – Information about rights: All workers should receive information about their workplace rights, including the rights which will help them manage their childcare needs.

4 – Parental leave and time off for dependants should be paid. It is not affordable for many young parents to take time off unpaid.  The government should start by introducing a period of 5 days paid parental leave. It should be paid at least at the rate of the relevant National Minimum Wage rate.

To read the full report, click here.

Please sign the petition: tell Greg Clark MP – Secretary of State for Business – that all working parents should get the same parents’ rights from day one.

And please forward this report to your MP and ask them what they are going to do to help young parents work – and when.

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