COVID-19 And The Difficult Life Of UK Workers Dealing With Homeschooling

Two in five (41%) parents working from home are finding the stress of homeschooling difficult, on average, they’re spending three hours during the working day looking after their children, however, a third (35%) want their working patterns to stay the same post-lockdown, UK employers have introduced various measures to help employees who are homeschooling and two fifths (39%) of working UK adults are homeschooling their children while balancing full time jobs, new research from Canada Life today reveals.

Canada Life polled parents who are homeschooling, and UK employers, to understand how workers are fairing during lockdown. On average, parents are spending three hours a day – or 15 hours a week homeschooling their children. They are therefore only working ‘in the office’ for three and half hours a day and are then spending two hours working after bedtime every evening to make up for lost time.

Daily Weekly Respective % of working week
Hours spent ‘in the office’ working 3 hours 30 17 hours 30 47%
Hours spent homeschooling 3 15 41%
Hours spent catching up after bedtime 2 10 27%

With the Government announcing that schools won’t be open full time until September, four in ten workers who are homeschooling (41%) admit that the stress of balancing this is becoming difficult. However, more than a third (35%) want their working patterns to stay the same when the lockdown restrictions are lifted; only a quarter (26%) want to return to a physical workplace, compared to 32% who want to work from home more often.

Leading by example

Employers have mostly been quick to respond and accommodate working parents. With one in four (39%) small business decision makers homeschooling their own children, the majority (87%) of parents say their employer has introduced flexible measures during lockdown. These include:

· Flexible hours (24%)

· Reducing parents’ workplace responsibilities (19%)

· Cutting back the number of meetings parents have to attend (17%)

· Implementing role-sharing between colleagues where possible (10%)

SME decision makers who are homeschooling themselves are more likely to have introduced flexible measures for parents; 84% of those who are balancing the classroom and working life themselves have introduced flexible measures for their employees, compared to just 33% among those who aren’t.

Overall, two thirds (67%) of employers think the measures they’ve introduced are sufficient, but a fifth (20%) are still planning to do more because they don’t feel like they’ve done enough. One in ten (9%) know that they haven’t done enough to support working parents, but can’t do anything else; this is higher among those who aren’t homeschooling (14%) than those who are (6%).

Paul Avis, Canada Life group insurance marketing director said: “No one could have predicted at the start of the year that parents across the country would be balancing the pressure of full-time jobs with homeschooling their children. It’s a really stressful time for everyone, but parents with young children have been particularly affected. It’s really positive that employers are taking their responsibilities seriously and supporting staff playing the role of parent, teacher, and employee.

“If you have a group protection policy in place, you’ll likely have access to a range of support services with your cover.  Canada Life for example has recently launched ‘WeCare’3, an extensive range of virtual support services covering health, mental health and wellbeing support, which is available for free to over 9,000 employers, supporting 150,000 employees and their families.

“Words like ‘unprecedented’ have probably been overused, but having researched the many issues with our current working practices over the years, I believe that out of this adverse situation, a beneficial outcome is on the horizon, with working from home and work-life balance now being recognised by employers as a good thing.”