5 August 2021

Support with summer childcare

Finding childcare over the long summer holidays can be difficult, but as part of our summer focus on caring we look at what help is available.

According to a report by the Coram Family and Childcare charity, finding affordable childcare during the school summer holidays is one of the biggest problems for parents. The research finds that only 33% of English local authorities have enough holiday childcare available for parents who work full time, and on average prices have risen 5% since 2019.

The cost and shortage of places can be overwhelming, often meaning parents end up using most of their annual leave and sometimes have to take unpaid leave as well. Many couples report that they have to divide the holidays between them so they are unable to take time off together as a family.

Research by the TUC found that nearly a fifth of working mums had already used up all their annual leave to manage school closures during lockdowns and around one in eight said they would need to take unpaid leave to make up the shortfall.

Help with changing your work patterns

Many civil service departments have a range of policies for working parents, including flexible working. Parents of children aged 16 and under have the right to ask their employer for flexible working and that can include compressed hours, flexi-time, staggered hours, working from home, job-sharing and term-time only working. Employers are obliged to consider any application for flexible working and can only reject it if there’s a good business reason for doing so.

Speak to your PCS rep to find out what is available in your workplace and how you can put in a request.

Parental leave

Parents of a child under 18 can take up to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave (in total). You must have been employed for at least one year. Leave must be taken in blocks of one week (unless the child is disabled, when it can be taken in shorter blocks) and you can take no more than four weeks’ parental leave per year.

Speak to your PCS rep about how to request parental leave.

Help with costs

You can receive help with childcare costs for children aged 11 and under through the government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme. Under the scheme you can get up to £500 every 3 months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every 3 months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year).

You can find your rep's details by logging into PCS Digital.