Our response to ‘Unequal impact? Coronavirus and the gendered economic impact’
Published: 9 Feb 2021
A new report from the Women and Equalities Committee
Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said:
“This report paints a clear picture of just how far gender equality has been pushed back by the pandemic. Our advice line has been inundated since the first lockdown with parents struggling to balance work and caring responsibilities. Last year 85% of those callers have been women, and 60% of those have been women from low income backgrounds. COVID has thrown a harsh light on how broken the system is for many.
“It doesn’t need to be like this. There are a number of steps the government can take to make employment work for parents both now and after the pandemic has eased. Right now, we are calling on the government to introduce 10 days of paid emergency parental leave to help families cope, and to make it crystal clear to employers that they should furlough parents struggling with childcare.
“In the longer term, adding caring responsibilities to the list of protected characteristics in the Equality Act would end the all-too-common story of parents (mainly women) being made redundant because they need to care for their children. Introducing standalone, extended paternity leave would help dismantle outdated ideas of who does the caring in families. And the upcoming Employment Bill is a golden opportunity to embed flexible working practices in our labour market by ensuring that employers are advertising all jobs with flexible options by default, unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.”