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Usdaw puts the spotlight on parents and carers under pressure and calls on the Government to do more to help

Date: 19 May 2021 Today is Usdaw’s Supporting Parents and Carers Spotlight Day, when the union highlights the difficulties of juggling work with looking after someone. To ensure Covid security, workplace campaigning is limited with the majority of spotlight day activities taking place online at: www.usdaw.org.uk/UnderPressure
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We know that three-quarters of Usdaw members are juggling their jobs with parental and/or caring responsibilities. Most are caring for children, older parents, grandchildren and sick or disabled family members. Even at the best of times it can be difficult to balance the two and the coronavirus crisis has added pressure like never before.
“The majority of those stepping in to provide care during the Coronavirus crisis are women in their 40’s and 50’s in paid work with dependent children of their own. They are providing even more care than they were before with fewer breaks and less support from formal care services. This has left them feeling under pressure, stressed and exhausted.
“Government support for carers before the pandemic fell far short of what was needed. Now with more people than ever providing care, the Government must act without delay to lift the pressure and safeguard carers’ economic and emotional health and well-being.
“Working parents face different pressures to carers but that doesn’t make them any easier to bear. Most parents lives were transformed almost overnight when lockdown was first imposed last year. Since then their usual routines and childcare arrangements have been regularly disrupted by further necessary measures including  lockdowns, school, nursery and class closures, periods of furlough and repeated periods of self-isolation.
“Balancing work with childcare is never easy and became a constant worry for more parents, with many losing pay or working more unsociable hours to make up for hours lost to childcare. Throughout the pandemic working parents have largely had to rely on unpaid or annual leave in order to juggle work and childcare.
“Unpaid leave simply is not a realistic option for low-paid parents, most ran out of annual leave and some rearranged their shifts, but this often means cutting back on hours and therefore pay. The disproportionate impact on women’s earnings, their ability to qualify for statutory sick or maternity pay and future pension earnings is particularly worrying.
“In the absence of sufficient statutory workplace rights, parents and carers’ mental health and financial security is being negatively affected. The Government needs to do more to lift the pressure on working parents and carers.”
The Government needs to act to lift the pressure - Usdaw is campaigning for the Government to lift the pressure on working parents and carers by:
  • Better enabling parents and carers to balance work and care by introducing a statutory right to ten days paid carers and parental leave. This should be made available to all parents and carers from day one of employment.
  • Improving protection from discrimination and redundancy for parents and carers by strengthening the law.
  • Improving the rate of and extending the reach of Carers Allowance.
  • Introducing a temporary legal right enabling parents and carers to access the furlough scheme. 
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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