Health Secretary Matt Hancock's announcement that millions of people in London, Essex, York and other areas will face tougher Tier 2 Covid measures from Saturday, means that over half of England's population will be living under high or very high-alert restrictions.
Under Tier 2 high-alert measures, there is a ban on households mixing indoors, including in pubs and restaurants. Delivering a statement to the Commons, the health secretary said "things will get worse before they get better." However, for many working parents in the UK, juggling childcare, work and home-schooling have left them struggling to cope for the last few months.
In the event of a second lockdown, research suggests that only 31% of parents would continue to send their children to school. With yesterday's announcement of numerous cities being moved to Tier 2 and Tier 3 high-alert measures, the likelihood of widespread school closures taking place across the country increases.
Now, accountancy consultancy Theta Global Advisors (http://www.thetafr.co.uk/), which specialises in flexible working options for chartered accountants and consultants, reveals brand new national research into the implications of school closures and lockdown on the lives and careers of working parents.
· Over 2 in 3 (64%) Brits believe that parents have been the hardest hit by the pandemic as they have had to work, take care of and teach their children simultaneously
· More than 1 in 4 (27%) parents in Britain fear their child not returning to school this month will put their job in jeopardy as they will have to continue to care for them while working from home
· More than 1 in 4 (27%) parents in Britain are making provisions for childcare as they do not believe they will return to school fully this month
· Almost a quarter (23%) parents in Britain say their employer has been unsympathetic to them having to manage childcare around work during the COVID period
· 28% of parents in Britain say that having to take care of their child during the COVID period has set them back more than a year in their career
Chris Biggs, Managing Director of Theta Global Advisors, commented on the research and on the future of work for parents:
"Working from home has its advantages for many businesses across a number of sectors, but it can have a disproportionately detrimental effect on different parts of the population, particularly those with school-aged children. With London, Essex, York, and Chesterfield going into Tier 2 Covid measures from Saturday, and Greater Manchester potentially facing 'very high' Tier 3 measures, firms need to appreciate that if they are going to ask their staff to stay at home, they may need greater flexibility to ensure that they are able to complete all their tasks, personal and professional.
The world of work has long presented additional challenges for working parents and lockdown has only made this issue worse for many who have not been given flexible working options or who have had to take over home-schooling and childcare responsibilities. The return of children to schools this September has created additional concerns that parents will have to change their plans quickly if and when they are forced to shut again or if they feel schools are not safe enough to continue. Business leaders need to match working from home with sentiments of true flexibility to keep their team's morale high, maintain productivity and keep their families safe during this pandemic."