Working Parents Forced to Quit as Return to Office Mandates Increase

A recent study suggests that CEOs think otherwise in a world that is embracing remote working. We look at their views and why KPMG’s Global Head of People think they need to reconsider their approach. Further studies outline working parents’ current struggle with rising childcare expenses due to the return to office mandates. With this in mind, we explore the government’s current help available, what they’re proposing for the future, and how employers can support their employees. This includes information about making a statutory request to work flexibly.

If you have questions about making a statutory flexible working request or believe your rights have been breached, contact us now. We are experts in employment law and can advise you on your possible next steps. To get in touch today:

What Do CEOs Think About Working Remotely?

A recent KPMG survey found that almost two-thirds of global chief executives believe in-office work will fully return by 2027. Furthermore, 87% felt that bonuses and promotions would likely be linked to the frequency with which employees return to work in the office.

KPMG International’s Global Head of People, Nhlamu Dlomu, expressed her views on these findings. She stated that CEOs who implement a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to in-office working could put themselves in a detrimental position. Also, she believes these leaders must consider what employees value most to ensure they’re supported.

Why Working Parents Are Being Forced To Quit Their Jobs

Pebble, the flexible childcare provider, has found that 50% of working parents are job hunting due to return-to-office mandates. They state that because employers want employees in the office more regularly, they request two extra days per week. This has seen childcare costs rise by roughly £166 per week. Furthermore, they outlined how the requirement to return to work in the office has increased travel costs. This equates to an extra £90, or £133 if an employee lives in London. Following these employer requirements, 60% of parents explained how they struggle to manage work and childcare.

Additionally, a study by Pregnant Then Screwed highlighted how 20% of parents in homes bringing in below £50,000 combined a year quit their jobs. This was linked to the growing costs of childcare. Overall, both research has found that parents who work need help to keep up with the growing childcare expenses. Pebble’s study also highlights parents’ reliance on working flexibly.

Childcare Support Offered By The Government

Currently, working parents can obtain up to £2,000 a year for each of their children towards childcare support. If the child is disabled, this support doubles. Also, for every £8 a parent pays into a childcare account, the government will provide £2. The support offered by the government can be used for approved parties, such as childminders, nurseries and after-school clubs. Parents must satisfy specific eligibility criteria to take advantage of the available support. As part of the criteria that enable parents to seek tax-free childcare, they must:

  • Work, be on sick or annual leave, or be on parental leave and be returning to work within 31 days of making an application
  • Earn at least the national minimum wage, supposing they worked an average of 16 hours a week
  • Have the correct immigration status

However, some exceptions exist to the general eligibility rules for tax-free childcare. This includes exceptions for individuals who don’t currently work or are self-employed.

Additionally, the government plans to roll out free childcare. This starts in April 2024, when eligible parents with two-year-olds can access 15 hours of free childcare. Over time, the government plans to improve this support. Eventually, in September 2025, they will offer eligible parents with children under five 30 hours a week of free childcare support.

What Other Support Can Working Parents Get?

As childcare costs rise, employers can provide better employee support to working parents. Flexible working is a benefit employers can supply, and this doesn’t just include remote working. Aside from working from home, this could consist of:

  • Compressing an employee’s hours over fewer days so that they require childminders less frequently
  • Reducing an employee’s hours from full to part-time to allow them to take care of their child more often
  • Providing flexibility with start and finish times to let an employee take and pick up their child from the nursery

This type of employee support is available to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria. Firstly, they must have continuously worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks. Also, they must legally be an employee. Finally, they must not have requested to work flexibly in the last 12 months. Should these criteria be satisfied and a request be made, the employer must treat it fairly and respond within three months.

If a request to work flexibly is turned down and an employee believes the decision is wrong, they can discuss this with their employer. Supposing the matter remains unresolved, a formal appeal can be made in writing. However, should no resolution be made, an employee may consider taking further action, like making a claim to an employment tribunal.

To find out if you’re eligible to claim to an employment tribunal, contact us today. To do this: