The article below based on research from Fidelity International suggests that due to the increased flexible working patterns developing during lockdown, there will be a more balanced sharing of childcare responsibilities in the future, as we emerge out of lockdown.
I hope this is the case, as I am big believer in the benefits of flexible working. There is no doubt, in my mind, that businesses will be far more open to working from home options now that they can see the increased productivity that it drives.
I know many people who are working much longer hours in lockdown, because they don't have the lost hours and stress of commuting. In my opinion there are people who have a strong work ethic, a sense of responsibility, and drive to achieve, and these people will work hard whatever their circumstances. And there are people who don't have these virtues, who will not work as hard even if they are sat in an office and under the gaze of their colleagues or bosses.
However I am concerned that the conclusion of the article below will not necessarily turn out to be the case, because from the people that I know, it's the females who are bearing the brunt of the childcare responsibilities during lockdown. This feels like a backward step, but hopefully it's only a temporary thing, and with schools starting to re-open, more mothers will be free to deploy their talent and continue their careers.
Currently, there is still a clear divide between genders when it comes to early childcare responsibilities. A quarter of women (25%) plan to return to work full-time after having children, compared to over half of men (51%), according to Fidelity International. In comparison, 12% of women will take a few years off work entirely or work part-time in order to be the primary caregiver. Only 5% of men said they plan to do the same. Meanwhile, shared parental leave remains chronically underused – only 9,200 men opted to take up the option in 2017/2018, equivalent to just 1% of those eligible to do so. Fidelity’s research found that there are signs of greater gender parity at home. When asked what roles their parents fulfilled, 72% said that their father had been the main breadwinner, with just 16% saying their mother had been the primary breadwinner. Now, over a third (35%) of women say they are the main breadwinner. This shift towards more equal parental roles could continue to progress once the coronavirus lockdown lifts, allowing both parents to move closer towards an equal split of childcare responsibilities – without cutting hours or income. Recent research from LSE[ii] found that in about 20% of couple households with dependent children in the UK, fathers are likely becoming the main providers of additional childcare because they are at home during lockdown. The report suggested the huge increase in working from home paves the way for the adoption of more flexible working solutions, and that parental childcare roles are likely to be reversed in households where the mother works in a critical sector.