57% of Working Parents Fear Pandemic Could Hurt Them at Work

57% of Working Parents Fear Pandemic Could Hurt Them at Work

Working mothers more likely to feel unsupported by employers than working fathers
A son interrupts his father while working

Working parents aren’t just concerned about how their children will continue their education during the pandemic — many are also worried about their jobs.

More than half of working parents — 57% — believe that they are at a disadvantage during the pandemic and will be the first group to be negatively impacted by employer decisions, according to a survey by Catalyst, a think tank focused on women’s workplace issues, and media organization CNBC.

Many also believe that their employers have, for the most part, been unresponsive to the needs of working parents during the pandemic.

Schools turned upside-down

The pandemic has created many challenges for parents of school-age children. Though 66% of parents said their children’s school is currently open or planning to reopen for in-person classes, the same percentage — 66% — also say they are keeping their kids home for complete virtual learning. In fact, only 20% of parents plan to have their children do all of their learning in-person, while 57% said they are either against the idea of sending their children back into the classroom or are unsure about it.

Meanwhile, consumers have been worried throughout the pandemic about the economy in general and their own employment outlook specifically. Working parents appear to be particularly concerned, with 41% saying they have less job security today than they did before the pandemic began. Even more troubling, the survey found that 38% are afraid they may be penalized by their employer because they are working parents.

While some employees in recent months have expressed less satisfaction with their benefits packages since the pandemic began, many working parents appear afraid to ask for more. More than a third — 39% — said they fear they’ll be laid off if they ask for help. On top of that, 42% said they thought their job would be at risk if they took advantage of the child care offerings or benefits that were already being provided through the workplace.

Some parents have even resorted to hiding their caregiving struggles from their employers, with 41% of working mothers and 36% of working fathers admitting to doing this.

Employees feel unsupported

Many survey respondents also pointed out that their employers have done little to show concern for the working parents they employ.

Overall, women appear to feel less supported than men. Nearly half — 49% — of working mothers said they don’t know of any plans by their employer to help workers with child care. More than a third of working fathers — 39% — were also unaware of such efforts.

When it comes to other employer benefits, employees did acknowledge that their employer has stepped up in some ways. Again, however, men appear more likely to find such support than women:

  • 49% of men and 37% of women said their employer has been proactive about enhancing benefits since the pandemic began
  • 26% of men and 16% of women said their employer is providing the option of paid leave
  • 17% of men and 10% of women said their employer is offering additional personal time off

Still, a notable 30% of working mothers and 20% of working fathers said their company has not been proactive at all about helping employees during the pandemic.

Methodology: Catalyst commissioned research and analytics firm Edelman Intelligence to survey 1,000 working parents (700 women and 300 men) with children between the ages of 5 and 18. Of the survey sample, 93% work full time and 7% work part time for companies with 500 or more employees.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.