News & Media

Where are the supports for Working Parents in this lockdown?

8 January 2021

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht
  • Expectation of “flexibility” by employers is not enough.
  • Clear supports and choices needed.

With working parents forced again to juggle homeschooling and their work, Labour spokesperson Marie Sherlock has said it is hugely disappointing to see no effort made by Government since Wednesday to recognise and resolve the very significant challenges.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The challenges posed by working from home and homeschooling and caring for young children are enormous. This circle needs to be squared with a joint agreed package from Government and employers which gives workers choice and flexibility in best addressing the needs of their family and their work.

"For many workers forced to work from home but who have to work fixed hours- it is extremely unfair and unrealistic to expect them to work and look after their own families at the same time.  “Catching up” with work at night-time or very early morning is not practicable and so parents are forced into a simply impossible juggle. This encompasses workers such as teachers, lecturers and many other customer engagement roles across financial services, insurance and many other sectors.

"Options must be available to these working parents to go on the EWSS for the duration that schools and childcare are closed if they so wish. Furthermore, there must be immediate access to parental leave if sought by a parent and the six week application period in place in many employments must be eliminated.

"Ultimately, what is needed will differ across families but we must not repeat the vicious cycle of the lockdown last year where there was a negative impact on children and working parents.

"The clear experience here in Ireland and in many other countries during the lockdown was that working mothers shouldered the disproportionate burden of homeschooling and looking after the family, with many reducing their work hours and experiencing drops in output and productivity.

"In the second half of 2020, Labour produced two bills to help and provide for working parent and more generally for those working from home. These have been put on the long finger by Government, but the need for measures has never been more urgent.

"This third lockdown must not be a lost month for children in terms of their education and wellbeing and for working mothers in terms of their income and their careers."