Businesses across the UK have seen a reduction in the number of working hours by staff due to the cost of childcare.
New figures released by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) show that 28 per cent of businesses have seen a reduction in staff working hours. Nearly nine per cent of businesses have also seen employees leave over childcare issues; and 12 per cent saw a reduction in productivity.
The survey, supported by Middlesex University, also found that a third of companies regard the availability of childcare as a key issue in recruiting and retaining staff.
While nearly 40 per cent of businesses view government plans to double free childcare next year as likely to have a positive impact on their business, the BCC is now calling on the government to go further.
They are urging them to consider the cost and benefits of a universal childcare entitlement up until school entry, which would help more firms retain and promote productive staff, and help working parents progress.
Adam Marshall, Director General at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said, “Firms across the UK are losing talented staff, often because of the availability and high cost of childcare.”
“At a time when economic growth is softening, and the skills gaps and recruitment difficulties are hindering business, the government should consider the childcare system as part of Britain’s core business infrastructure – in the same way that it thinks of energy, transport, or broadband.”
“Government must take a clear and detailed look at the costs and benefits of a universal childcare entitlement, to bridge the gap between parental leave and the start of school.”
“This could take the form of a family account that enables parents to select the support that’s right for their working patterns from the market.”
“In time, this could help businesses raise productivity, and help more parents stay in work.”
“As businesses have evolved to become more flexible, government policy should also evolve – to help as many working parents as possible stay in the workplace.”
David Williams, Director of Corporate Engagement at Middlesex University, said, “Businesses need to retain talented staff and with the renewed focus from the Government on upskilling the workforce particularly around apprenticeships and corporate degrees it is crucial that there is sufficient affordable childcare available for employees who are studying to help fill the skills gap.”
“The childcare support available for those studying needs to be simplified and made clearer for all to help tackle gender inequality and maintain diverse workforces.”