For many parents, commuting to work takes up hours each week. That’s ‘dead time’
where parents aren’t working, but still need to pay for childcare.
Allowing people to work from home is a simple step employers
can take to help working families over the school holidays.
The holiday childcare gap
In the UK, children typically get around 13 weeks school holiday each year. Most working parents get around 4-5 weeks paid annual leave. Even if a two-parent family uses all their holiday allowance to cover school holidays, with parents never taking a holiday at the same time, that still leaves a ‘holiday childcare gap’ of 3-4 weeks every year.
Of course, most families want to spend some of that precious holiday time actually together, as a family. So, in reality, most families are left with a holiday childcare gap of many weeks each year.
Holiday childcare costs are high – and rising
According to the Family and Childcare Trusts Holiday Childcare Survey 2018, average full-time childcare costs are now £135 per week in England, and around £125 per week in Scotland and Wales.
The most expensive region – with higher costs than inner London – is the East of England, where parents pay an average of £169 per week for full-time holiday childcare.
Costs for parents are still rising – up 4% over the last year.
Weekly cost of holiday childcare, England (£)
Weekly cost of holiday childcare, East of England (£)
Source: Family and Childcare Trusts Holiday Childcare Survey 2018
Commuting adds extra time and costs
A fairly modest 40 minute commute each way adds up to over 26 hours per month, for someone working five days a week. That’s the equivalent of more than three working days per month, just spent sitting in your car or on the train. And of course, parents still need childcare for this time, even though it’s not generating anything useful for us – or employers.
If you have a 60-minute commute each way – which is the norm for around 3.7m people in the UK – your travel time adds up to a whopping 40 hours per month. That’s equivalent to more than five full work-days a month, just spent commuting.
All that time means extra childcare costs. Let’s take a look at a two-child family, where the parents have a 40-minute each-way commute. Even if they take a two-week family holiday together, they’ll be working for another four weeks over the holidays. With travel time of 26 hours during that month, they could be paying at least £180 just for childcare to cover the time they are commuting – and that’s before the costs of petrol or train tickets are added in.
For someone with a 60 minute commute, that’s 60 hours wasted over four weeks, at a childcare cost for two children of around £270 – a big dent in most family budgets.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
myworkhive, specialists in remote working, are calling on employers
to allow more parents to work from home during the holidays.
Working from home through the holidays can save families hundreds of pounds. It also means precious hours each day to spend with our children. It can make the difference between being home for an evening meal and storytime with younger children – or barely seeing them at all that day.
Hours wasted commuting per month (60 minute each-way commute)
Monthly cost (in £) to pay for childcare for two children, to cover a 60 minute each-way commute
Remote working has up sides for employers, too
If we had one message for employers, it’s that working from home isn’t just a nice perk for parents. Data shows that allowing staff to work from home reduces stress (which cuts down on time lost to sickness, for example) and can increase productivity.
It can also help employers stand out from the crowd, helping them attract and retain great staff. The demand for flexible jobs seems here to stay. According to a report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, 92% of millennials say that flexibility (which includes more choice over work location) is a key priority when job hunting.
Making more jobs home based is also great for diversity, allowing more women – who often take on the bulk of holiday child-care – to better manage work and family commitments. That in turn can reduce staff turnover, which keeps a lid on recruitment costs.
In a 2017 survey by Working Mums, 72% of Mums stated that home-based working was a key sign of a family-friendly company. Being able to work from home was seen as a more significant benefit than enhanced maternity pay.
It’s not just helpful for parents, either; staff with elderly relatives to care for can also benefit.
Having less staff in the office reduces pressure on expensive office space. And once your team are used to remote working, it’s easy to roll it out whenever there’s a tube strike or a snow-day, meaning less interruptions and better service for your customers. It’s better for the environment, too, getting cars off the roads during peak times for pollution and congestion.
So come on employers. Why not give parents something really useful – let them work from home this summer and give them #twomorehours – every day. They will love you for it. Better still, the costs are minimal – and over the long run it could even save you money.