40% of working parents had to quit or reduce their hours during pandemic

Telecommuting while the whole family’s home meant more areas to keep organized, more meals to make, and likely the biggest imposition on time, proctoring e-learning.


Image: iStock/lightfieldstudios

It’s been abundantly clear the impact COVID-19 has on the economy, as well as the enterprise, but it might be less evident how stressful and overwhelming sheltering at home (SAH) while working from home (WFH) has been for parents. 

A new report from Flexjobs found that since the pandemic started, almost half of working parents (40%) have had to change their employment situation by either voluntarily reducing hours (25%) or quitting entirely (15%). Of those who quit, 38% said they do not plan to rejoin the workforce.

The move to SAH happened swiftly, and a result was that both parents and children were not only going to be living together 24/7 for an unspecified amount of time, but also working (traditional working for the parents, online school for the children). The work/homelife balance has never been as precarious.

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Where they might not have before, the pandemic drew parents—once wholly reliant on teachers in school to handle everything and anything academic—to taking a more hands-on approach to the daily ins-and-outs of their children’s education.

To fully understand the effect COVID-19 has had on working parents Flexjobs surveyed more than 2,500 working parents who had children under the age of 18 and asked about the career choices they’ve had to make, how remote learning is impacting their choices, and what kind of support they would like from their employers.

In March, when 90% of the world’s schools shutdown, 63% of working mothers in the US reported they were the primary childcare providers and 42% of working fathers said they were the primary childcare providers.

While helming childcare, it’s likely a natural progression that 80% of working mothers took the lead on monitoring their childrens’ remote learning, while only 31% of working fathers claimed the same.

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Work, home, and the pandemic

Though 43% of working mothers said their employment status had remained the same during the pandemic, 17% quit their jobs. However, 51% of working fathers said their employment was the same, and only 10% had quit their jobs.

So far, there’s been no end date given to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 35,000 new cases are reported daily, with more than 1,000 daily deaths. Early predictions that the figures would jump to 200,000 deaths or more in the US  by September came true.

And many schools are fully remote, at least for fall. Some schools are using a hybrid schedule (some days in classrooms, others from home) and there are schools which have all students in classrooms (although those tend to self-quarantine and send everyone home when an outbreak occurs). But when the spring semester starts, plans are up in the air for many schools. 

When working parents were asked their plans if remote learning continues for the entire school year 2020-2021, 50% said they’d continue working and provide both childcare and online school help. 

But employers will be needed to help out and be flexible, as 22% of respondents want to request full-time WFH status, while 21% said they’d be looking for and paying for additional childcare. Another 7% said that either they or their partners would need to quit.

Despite the challenges, parents are trying to find a way to be positive. When Flexjobs asked them what would help them balance work and home, 58% revealed a flexible schedule would have the most positive impact. 

Types of flexibility respondents said they would most benefit from:

  • Working from home full time (48%)
  • Working from home part time (30%)
  • Freelancing (24%)
  • Alternative schedules (20%)

Working parents consider the following the most important when evaluating a job prospect:

  1. Work-life balance (79%)
  2. Salary (77%)
  3. Flexible work options (73%)
  4. Meaningful work (54%)
  5. Work schedule (49%)
  6. Location (40%)
  7. Health insurance (39%)
  8. Company culture (34%)
  9. Vacation time (34%)
  10. Company reputation (33%)
  11. Career progression (33%)
  12. Skills training and education options (31%)
  13. 401(k)/Retirement benefits (28%)

Despite the daily challenges, 40% or working mothers and 50% of working fathers reported they’ve never been as productive in an office as they were at home during the pandemic. 

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