Balancing childcare with work hits South East parents’ health and wellbeing

By Sarah Edwards

Almost two-fifths of South East parents (38%) claim balancing childcare responsibilities with work has negatively impacted their health or mental wellbeing, research has revealed.
In a study of 1,123 workers by Willis Towers Watson, only 30% of South East workers said their employer currently offers childcare support or benefits. Furthermore, almost a third (30%) said their employers fails to pay maternity or paternity leave above the statutory minimum.
The Willis Towers Watson Employee Benefits and Wellbeing Barometer explores attitudes to employee benefits among UK workers.
“Although the government’s new Tax-Free Childcare scheme may be helping to address the financial burden, this is just one piece of the jigsaw,” said Mike Blake, Director. “For some parents, additional benefits such as further financial support, access to a workplace nursery or provision of flexible working practices, may prove invaluable.”
The right to request flexible working was extended from parents and carers to all employees with 26 weeks’ or more continuous service in June 2014. Requests can still be turned down however if they have been addressed by the employer in a “reasonable manner”.
According to more than a quarter of South East workers (28%), not enough is being done and employers should be offering more childcare support. Blake has pointed out that doing so can make good business sense.
“Supporting working parents can have a positive impact for organisations in a number of key areas,” he said.
“By looking after their financial and emotional wellbeing, incidents of sickness absence can be reduced and productivity can be increased through improved levels of motivation and engagement. Furthermore, support for this important workforce demographic can reinforce an organisation’s reputation as an employer of choice and, in turn, help boost recruitment and retention.”