TUC urges flexible working around staggered primary school starts

By agency reporter
September 1, 2015

Around 400,000 working mothers have children starting primary school across England and Wales this September, which poses new challenges for their work-life balance.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling on employers to be supportive of working parents (both mothers and fathers) and allow them to work flexibly to help manage their childcare over this period.

Most primary schools in the UK operate a staggered start for children entering reception classes, with the youngest children required to attend just morning or afternoon sessions for the first few weeks.

While this is important to ensure children can settle into their new environment, some working parents may find it difficult to fit their shifts and working patterns around these staggered starts, warns the TUC.

The TUC suggests bosses should listen seriously to requests from staff to work flexibly, to take holiday or to take unpaid parental leave over this period to help with childcare arrangements. It points out that there are many different types of families and many working fathers may need the same flexibilities.

The TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “The beginning of September marks a huge milestone for children starting reception class. But for many working mums this time of year can also be a logistical nightmare.

“It’s important that starting school is not rushed and that children take their time to become settled and confident in school. But some families will really struggle to juggle childcare arrangements alongside work, and bosses need to be sympathetic to flexible working, work from home and leave requests.

“Flexible working has been a roaring success for both staff and smart employers over the last decade – despite grumblings from some business lobbyists. Unions have always negotiated good flexible arrangements with progressive employers. That’s why every worker should be in a trade union, to get their voice heard and their interests represented.”

* The number of working mothers with children starting primary school in September 2015 has been estimated using Office for National Statistics data on live births between September 2010 and August 2011 and the number of employed women with dependent children aged two to four years old.

*TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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