Councillor Danny Myers, York’s Labour Group Leader on the city council has written to 20 leading local employers asking them to proactively offer a furlough option to parents and carers home educating their children.
Many people are finding the pressure from the local council and health advisers to not send their children to school, combined with a lack of flexibility from employers over working hours, is pushing them to a tipping point where they simply cannot cope. Cllr Myers is asking employers to consider use of the national furlough scheme to help parents and carers survive the current lockdown until schools fully re-open.
“I was disappointed to see recently that a national survey of working mothers highlighted 70% of requests to be furloughed had been declined, while almost 80% surveyed weren’t even aware that furlough was an option at the current time.” he said.
“For many working parents with one, let alone two or three primary school age children the current situation is proving increasingly impossible. The risk is we see burnout in those trying to manage these conflicting priorities, and a widening development gap between those children whose parents do enjoy flexibility at work, and those whose parents don’t”.
Parents of school aged children have been sent a letter by the Council about the high number of children still attending schools in York, and the need to keep children at home if at all possible. Yet the council itself has removed the flexibility for working parents offered during the first national lockdown. Cllr. Myers says he fears the pressures on parents and carers could lead to them having little choice in rejecting the council’s plea.
“People have to be able to put food on the table and pay their bills so if they have to choose, they will work and try and get their children into schools and nurseries.
“That’s not a situation we want to see given the rates of coronavirus in York, so I’ve asked employers for flexibility to help the city get through this tough period. We know how many people are struggling and who just need their employer to offer a sympathetic and flexible response until this lockdown is over.
“If furlough isn’t possible, then there are plenty of other arrangements that could make the current period workable if the will is there. I’m really hopeful that employers will engage on this important issue and help their workers get through this awful period”.