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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Minnikin

Childcare is fucked for working mums

Updated: Mar 8

We can’t talk about unfucking work without addressing one of the biggest elephants in the room: the raw deal for working mums.


As a mum, I know first-hand how difficult it is to juggle parenting and work. When I became a mother, I was fortunate enough to secure a generous maternity leave package from my employer. However, I returned part-time after having my baby, as full-time childcare was unaffordable and frankly not an option.


A childcare cost crisis


Even now, as my child approaches their teens, the financial squeeze that childcare puts on families has only gotten worse. The UK has the second highest childcare costs in the world, with childcare comprising over a quarter of a family’s income on average.


Parents are left to turn to available (and generous!) friends and family for more informal and less costly care arrangements. Without these, sacrifices have to be made - often at the expense of working mums.


For mothers in particular - who are often the primary caregivers to their children - the financial strain of childcare means that they have to put their careers to one side to ensure that their children are looked after.


Hidden goldmine of talent


It’s infuriating that in 2022, mothers are being forced out of the labour market by an economy that still does not recognise the value of the unpaid care they provide. As well as being ridiculously outdated and sexist, the lack of support for working mums hits businesses where it hurts - more than they realise.


Since the pandemic turned conventional workplaces on their heads, employers everywhere are struggling to fill roles with the right people for their business, but there is a considerable talent pool under their noses.


It is vital that these employers don’t overlook the talents of the 75% of UK mothers already working, and those looking to re-enter the workforce after having children.


How businesses can help


With the UK currently in the grip of the cost-of-living crisis, childcare costs are unlikely to go down anytime soon without serious government intervention, which is sorely overdue. Organisations like Pregnant Then Screwed are working hard to raise awareness of the motherhood penalty and influence changes in law and policy.


In the meantime though, employers very much have a part to play. Not only have an ethical responsibility to unfuck work for mums, doing so will unlock skills and talent that they so desperately need.


Addressing unconscious biases while offering flexiblility, remote working options and a genuine life/work balance will put employers ahead of the curve and help them attract and retain their best people.


On any successful pirate voyage, the needs of all of the crew are considered and met. Both the government and businesses need to address the issue and empower working mums if we’ve got any chance of unfucking work for everyone.



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