Two thirds of working parents considering quitting because of childcare costs

More than two-thirds (70 percent) of working parents in the UK have quit or are considering quitting their job due to lack of affordable childcare optionsMore than two-thirds (70 percent) of working parents in the UK have quit or are considering quitting their job due to lack of affordable childcare options, according to a new poll from Remote. The research explores the financial and mental impact return to office mandates and a lack of flexible hours has on parents, as well as outlining the consequences of what the report calls  the ‘Working Parents Crisis’ on the UK’s workforce shortages.  

Of those surveyed, 73 percent of working parents said they have taken a pay cut or reduced hours due to lack of affordable childcare – this combination of parents being forced to reduce hours or leave work completely due to unaffordable childcare is exacerbating the UK’s continuing skills-gap shortage, with recent research from ManPower showing that cross-sector shortfalls in the UK have reached an 18-year high of 80 percent.

Despite the new Flexible Work Act coming into force in the UK in April, unfulfilled promises of flexible and remote work are also impacting working parents. Remote’s survey claims that 65 percent of working parents have been offered ‘fake flexibility’ at work, leading to unexpected or unplanned childcare costs. Return to Office mandates are seen as particularly concerning, with 73 percent of working parents saying they feared that their childcare costs would go up further if they were required to work more days in the office.

Nearly two thirds (63 percent) of working parents say they have been reprimanded or received negative feedback at work due to taking unplanned time off for their child being sick. Three quarters of respondents felt guilty or anxious for taking time off for childcare needs, with working mothers (78 percent) more likely to feel guilty got unplanned childcare related absences than working fathers (68 percent).

The survey also claims to reveal the toll childcare related challenges is having on the mental health of working parents, with 21 percent confessing that balancing work and childcare has had a negative impact on their mental health. The strain of balancing childcare with work is also impacting future family planning, with one in four having either postponed or reconsidered having more children in the last year.

Remote’s report argues that support in the workplace is crucial to overcoming these challenges, with working parents naming flexible working hours as their top priority when looking for a job (37 percent) ahead of pay (35 percent) and job security (25 percent).

The Working Parents Survey was commissioned by Remote and collected information from 1,501 working women and men with at least one child under five years old in March 2023. Respondents all worked in white collar “desk jobs” and were evenly split between fully remote, hybrid and in-office working arrangements.