With summer holidays looming ever closer, UK working parents are unnecessarily left to worry about childcare cover, says George Martin

working mum

Over half (57%) of working parents are unnecessarily spending up to £1,800 on childcare cover, with nearly half (41%) unaware that they have the legal right to take four weeks unpaid parental leave, a study commissioned by Crossland Employment Solicitors has shown.

The research also found that a quarter (27%) of parents will pay up to £800 in sending their children to holiday clubs this summer, with this being the only summertime childcare option available for many couples.

Two-fifths (41%) of respondents said they will have to rely on friends or family to look after children this summer holiday. This is arguably due to the relatively small numbers of parents to have taken up unpaid parental leave; in the past year, only a third (33%) of mothers and less than one-in-five (18%) of fathers have taken the leave they’re entitled to.

A separate study was conducted, interviewing workers who did not have children. Of these, over two-thirds (67%) believe that similar leave should be allowed to care for sick pets, or to help settle a pet into a new home.

In spite of British working parents being legally entitled to four weeks of unpaid childcare leave a year, four out of every ten (39%) workers worry that taking extra time off will be perceived negatively by their employer, which could potentially hinder career progression.

Beverly Sunderland, Managing Director of Crossland Employment Solicitors, said: “Employers need to be more open and transparent with workers about their unpaid leave entitlements as well as creating a culture that encourages employees to take leave rather than it being perceived as something that could damage their career. Unpaid leave allows eligible parents time off to look after their child’s welfare for example, to spend more time with their children and the family, to look for new schools, or to settle children into new childcare arrangements.

“Whilst there’s no obligation to advise employees of their right to unpaid parental leave, it is in the employer’s best interest to support working parents where they can, so they can maintain a happy work/life balance.”