3 employment rights that aren’t working for young mums and dads. And 2 rights that they should have.
Today we’re publishing the findings from our research with over 1,000 young mums and dads. We wanted to know what young mums and dads thought about the workplace rights which are supposed to help them manage their childcare. We asked them:
- If they are aware of three key existing employment rights which could help working parents with their childcare responsibilities:
- What they thought about these rights, and
- How the rights could be improved so they would be more useful to them
Here’s what they told us.
Existing rights aren’t delivering
The first right we asked about was the right to time off for dependents
50% of young mums and dads that we spoke to were unaware of this right.
Time off for dependants is unpaid unless an employer is willing to give paid time off under the terms and conditions of employment. This means that lots of mums and dads can’t use this right, as they can’t afford to go without pay!
Then we asked them about the right to request flexible working.
43% of young mums and dads that we spoke to were unaware of this right.
Young mums and dads who had tried to use this right said that it was far too easy for an employer to turn down their request to work flexibly.
They suggested that when someone starts a new job it should automatically be possible to use flexible working practices, which would help them manage their childcare. The only exception should be where an employer can provide a good business reason for it not being possible.
The last right we asked about was the right to unpaid parental leave.
Shockingly, 63% of young mums and dads that we spoke to, are not aware of the right to unpaid parental leave.
The parents that we spoke to had a household income of less than £28,000. Many felt that this right was not really helpful to them, as taking large chunks of unpaid time off is not realistic.
If you are a young mum or dad working on a zero hours contract, or as an agency worker, it is extremely unlikely that you will be entitled to use any of the three rights above. These rights are only available for those people who are classed as “employees”. Those people who are on more permanent contracts, with regular hours, for example.
So what new rights would help parents?
- All workers should be given notice of their shifts one month in advance
Many young mums and dads have jobs without fixed working hours. Shifts can be handed out with less than one week’s notice and they are often unsure about what time they will finish work. Greater certainty of working hours would help young mums and dads plan their childcare around their working hours.
- 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.
Half of the mums and dads we spoke to said they struggle to combine work and childcare. These new rights could help change that. Now’s the time for the government to act.
You can read the Better Jobs For Mums And Dads report here.