Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has found 78% of those who have already lost their jobs as a result of the virus are women.1. And around 80% of working mothers have struggled to juggle childcare and work during the coronavirus crisis — with a quarter of them saying their workplace has not provided flexibility to help them manage this extra pressure2.

Employer support

Fergal Dowling, national head of employment law at Irwin Mitchell, a partner of BHSF, has spoken of his frustration at the findings.

“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted many challenges that some women have faced in the workplace and it’s very disappointing and worrying to read the majority feel their careers have been hampered during this time.

“The numbers from the findings speak for themselves and there’s also evidence over half of working mothers believe chaos caused by the closure of schools during lockdown has already damaged their careers or could cause future harm3. This is unacceptable.”

Dowling believes employers have a big part in supporting working mothers and offering flexibility could work.

“Companies can and should be doing more to support working mothers and a big part of this is providing greater flexibility in terms of when they work and where they perform their duties.

“It could be allowing them to complete their work during evenings and weekends. Managers could also consider job redesign and reallocate or redefine tasks or projects to best suit their current capacity.

“People’s circumstances should be taken into account as far as possible. It could be having a one-to-one conversation about what support could help them to be more productive.

“Businesses can also do more to support families by providing assistance and information on areas such as home schooling and teaching resources.

“The support employers can provide for working mothers during this very challenging time could reap benefits in terms of their loyalty in the future.”

Employer advice

BHSF and The Employee Resilience Company (TERC) work alongside Irwin Mitchell to support employers and employees on workplace legal issues.

Dowling adds they’ve been able to advise employers on how they can help working mums during these challenging times.

“We’re supporting employers to take a reasonable and pragmatic approach as to how work can be organised for working mothers. Showing a little empathy can go a long way.

“We’ve been able to advise companies on introducing necessary measures to make sure working mothers are not exposed to the risk of catching the virus on their commute to work.

“From offering alternate work hours to free car parking, where possible, so mothers avoid using public transport. If mothers don’t have their own vehicle, we’ve also encouraged employers to advise working mums to continue to work from home.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated that flexibility exists in many more roles than previously thought possible. This is a great time for employers to step up, innovate and enable different ways of working that benefits working mums.”


If you’re an employer and require specialist support when it comes to managing workplace legal issues, we’re here to help. Call us today on 0800 622 552.

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