Flexibility crucial to offset Sunak’s childcare U-turn

Businesses must improve workplace fluidity to emotionally and financially support employees, says Nicole Bello, Group Vice President EMEA at UKG.

workplace flexibility supports employees


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has indefinitely shelved plans for an overhaul of the UK’s childcare system, initially proposed by his predecessor Liz Truss.

The former Prime Minister’s bill involved scrapping mandatory staff-child ratios in an attempt to cut costs for nurseries, as well as increasing free childcare support by 20 hours a week. Sunak is preparing his own reform plans on a far smaller scale, which are expected to take months to arrive.

The announcement coincides with the highest food price rises on record (the annual food inflation rate jumped to 13.3% in December), as the cost-of-living crisis tightens its grip on household incomes. Alongside inflationary pressures, parents have unprecedented childcare fees to contend with – the annual fee for full-time care for a two-year-old rose by 171% from 2000 to 2021.

Nicole Bello, Group Vice President EMA at UKG, said, “Businesses should not underestimate the mental and financial toll the cost-of-living crisis is inflicting on their staff, and they have a moral obligation to support employees in these trying times. This means engaging with the political and economic climate to identify how employees are being impacted and introducing measures to address these challenges.

“The childcare reform U-turn is a prime opportunity for business leaders to proactively support staff who are struggling with rising bills. The easiest way businesses can assist the employees affected is to offer a truly flexible model of working, that gives colleagues the chance to schedule shifts or office days around childcare demands.”

She concluded, “It’s important to remember that nobody understands the requirements of the current workforce better than employees themselves, so trusting them with an agile and empowering working environment is the most effective way of offering support.”

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