Mum of three, Anne Marie Crowley,
“The ESRI’s findings that mothers’ ability to work is affected by childcare costs came as no surprise to me — in fact, if anything I felt the figures understated the impact of childcare costs on family income.
“12% of a family’s disposable income strikes me as rather low — for anyone with a child in full time creche care, they’ll be paying that percentage of gross income, not disposable income. If you have a child in childcare, you don’t have such a thing as disposable income! While I don’t begrudge childcare staff a fair wage — they are highly qualified and the people who look after my son are brilliant at their jobs — the Government needs to do more to keep families afloat.
“We are in a really lucky position to have two solid incomes in our household, but with baby number two on the way I am really at a loss to see how we will afford creche for both of them. It’s one thing to talk about making sacrifices, but the cost of a family break would only cover a couple of months’ fees; there is no way of scraping together almost €10,000 a year by giving up coffee or swapping steak for mince. It’s just not feasible, and that’s why so many women, who don’t want to, end up giving up or cutting down on work, sacrificing career prospects and pension entitlements in the long term.”
“The childcare costs in the Ireland of today are prohibitive in some cases and while there is not going to be a significant change in this in the near future, Employmum believes the solution lies in flexible work for all. Flexible work can mean part time/jobs share/remote work/flexi hours/compressed hours and all can alleviate the costs of childcare for a working parent.”
“High childcare costs in Ireland are preventing working mothers from reaching their full potential in the labour force. Childcare and elder care still tend to be viewed as a ‘woman’s issue’ by many organisations.
“Flexible working arrangements for women returning from maternity leave are still not the norm, and women are too frequently judged to be prioritising their family at the expense of their careers.
“More than lack of flexibility from employers, however, it is the high costs of childcare that prevents women from returning to paid employment after maternity leave.
“The recent ESRI report confirms widespread anecdotal evidence suggesting that women are all too often denied career advancement due to high childcare costs.
“Too many working mothers are forced to abandon their careers due to crippling childcare costs. This results in fewer women reaching senior management in many Irish organisations. This, in turn, reduces the number of female role models for mothers returning to the workforce after maternity leave.
“The timing of career advancement for women often coincides with their child-bearing years. This, unfortunately, reinforces to senior management that their male counterparts would be more suited for promotion.
“Childcare costs are forcing women to ‘opt out’ from working outside the home, which denies organisations of diversity in their senior management teams and ultimately impacts negatively on their financial bottom line.”
“We support lower childcare costs in TANDEM with subsidies for all other families. That is really putting children and not employers first.
“Parents continually weigh up priorities. Do they want lower childcare costs?; Yes of course, but they also want to be able to have the flexibility to stay home, work part time and so on.
“If the government really wants to help, they would sort out pensions, subsidise all families equally and support companies that take on employees who have been at home caring for a number of years — not subsidise one form of childcare making it impossible to stay home.”
“Once a woman finishes maternity leave her child will be just one year old and will need full-time childcare if a mother wants to return to work. Families are faced with very tough decisions and often cannot afford to avail of childcare.
“In order for women to succeed in the workplace — they need to be supported. That support can come from a number of places such as the State, employers, managers, family and friends. The Government is working hard to ensure it supports working parents and I would also urge employers to do what they can too to support parents. Employers can have a big influence in the success of female employees and even small changes can mean a lot. Giving women the option of more flexible work practices would go a long way to ensuring they continue to play a vital role in the workforce. It might be allowing them to come in after the school run or work from home a day a week, whatever would work for the business and the employee should be explored.”