Childcare nightmare for City slickers

Mar 07 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

People who work in the London's financial sector believe that having children can seriously damage their careers.

Research carried out for the Corporation of London has found that two thirds of non-parents working in the City of London believe that having a child would adversely affect their career.

Meanwhile, balancing working life and childcare can prove o difficult that one in three working parents in the City are considering giving up work to care for their children.

An estimated third (113,000) of City workers are parents with dependent children.

The research, based on a survey of 897 employees and 143 employers, found that although the majority of City workers are satisfied with their childcare arrangements, many parents feel they lack information, support and flexibility from their employers.

However it also found that the majority of City businesses and employees were unaware of government changes intended to increase financial help for childcare beginning on 1 April 2005.

Almost nine out of 10 (86 per cent) of parents and half (45 per cent) of businesses are not aware of new exemptions available through Income Tax and National Insurance aimed to make childcare more accessible and affordable.

Furthermore, the government initiatives are only prompting one in five City employers to implement new childcare support schemes.

As a result, half a million working days are lost in the Square Mile each year due to childcare related problems.

The Corporation of London's survey is only the latest to suggest that the financial sector is dragging its feet on the delivery of family-friendly workplaces

Last year, a nationwide survey of finance professionals found that more than a third of employees believed the finance industry discriminates against working mothers, while almost half of firms had no formal policy on flexible working.

However, companies who support their employees’ childcare identify a number of business benefits including reduced absenteeism, higher staff morale, a more dedicated workforce, lower staff turnover and a greater number of women returnees, the Corporation claimed.

The four areas working parents want support from their employers are in the provision of basic information, the ability to work from home or work flexible hours, the provision of tax free childcare vouchers and paid leave for childcare purposes.

Ian Comfort, City Education Officer at the Corporation of London said: “With long working hours and often lengthy commutes, many people find it difficult to progress their careers while managing childcare arrangements.

"Childcare must be given higher priority; employees need to know what help is available and it is vital that business understands the benefits of supporting employees childcare needs.”