Flexible working key to supporting single dads after the pandemic

New report looks at how the health crisis has impacted single dads and single mums and offers solutions for the future

caregiving fathers flexible work


Support for single parents as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis has been described as ‘vital’ by  a leading charity. Single parent advocacy charity Gingerbread has released a new report on the experiences of single dads and single mums over the last year.

It found that single parents were more likely to be furloughed, struggled with accessing childcare and missed out on interaction with others.

The most recent lockdown brought a range of positives and negatives for single dads. Many were able to put their children in school so they could work. But the policy was inconsistent across schools and different areas. Those single parents that had to self isolate due to a child catching Covid or their class getting sent home from school felt employers did not react with sensitivity. And many missed out financially. Awareness of government support grants was very low.

Challenges for single dads

The Gingerbread report was put together in partnership with the Institute for Employment Studies.

The authors identified three main challenges for single dads and single mums going forward.

  • Home working during the pandemic has created flexibility for some families. However, single parents need access to other forms of flexible working, especially quality part-time jobs.
  • Ongoing restrictions in the availability of childcare and wraparound support and increased childcare costs will make it harder for single parents to move into or remain in work.
  • Single parent employment is concentrated in industries which had been hard hit by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flexible working that involves more than just working from home is increasingly cited as an important measure going forward.


The report lays out a series of recommendations.

  • Improving access to childcare and reduce the upfront costs for single parents.
  • Increasing opportunities for flexible working.
  • Ensuring clearer support for single parents whose children need to self-isolate.
  • Developing tailored back to work and training support for single parents.
  • Improving access to mental health services for single parents and their children.

“Single parents have been among those hardest hit by the pandemic over the last year,” said Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies. “But as we look to the future, we need to ensure that they don’t also miss out on the recovery that we’re now expecting.”

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