Last reviewed 11 May 2020

Women who are working outside the home are more likely to be keyworkers, with 61% compared with 43% of men saying their work is essential at this time.

According to research carried out by gender equality charity the Fawcett Society, the Women’s Budget Group and academic experts from Queen Mary University of London and the LSE, these women are twice as likely as men to say they feel under pressure from their employer to continue going out to work.

In addition, they are more likely to say they are working harder than before and to say they have to continue going out to work because they cannot afford to stay at home.

They also report some of the greatest levels of anxiety with 56% of women who say their work is essential reporting high anxiety levels, compared with 30% of men in that group.

Mothers of young children are among the most anxious.

Nearly half (46%) of mothers of under-11s report anxiety above a seven on a scale of 0–10, compared with 36% of fathers. This compares with 32% of women and 24% of men who are not parents of young children.

The research has highlighted money problems in this group with half of the parents with young children saying that they will struggle to make ends meet in the next three months while slightly more (57%) expect to face higher levels of debt after the crisis.

Fawcett Society Chief Executive, Sam Smethers said: “The Government needs to step in to provide additional financial support for parents and ensure decent pay and conditions for key workers too, who are themselves also more likely to be parents.”

She has called for a significant increase in child benefit of £50 per week per child and for pay for all keyworkers to be set at real living wage levels, arguing that this would make a real difference and that the Government could do it immediately.

Dr Clare Wenham, Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy at the London School of Economics, said: “We also need to acknowledge the mental toll financial worries have on parents, on top of everything else these parents are doing – home schooling, increased domestic chores, as well as trying to keep up with their own paid work.”

Full details of the survey can be found at https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=dd95c8eb-4d1b-446a-ae57-b43e436c872e.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer

These findings send a clear message to employers that it is essential to consider the personal circumstances of their staff, and how added pressures both at work and at home can be negatively impacting upon their mental health.

Despite the expected lockdown relaxations, we are still a long way from the end of the coronavirus crisis and, to this end, employers should always take into account employee wellbeing.

Staff who feel pressured to come into work, and unsupported by their employers, are more likely to feel stressed and, potentially, take long periods away from work as a result.

Despite these calls, it remains to be seen if the Government will introduce further measures to help working parents and, until this, employers should keep up to date with all developments as they come.