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Release of the Parent and Family Network pandemic impact report

Holding hands

Earlier in the year, the Parent and Family Network conducted a survey to investigate the impact that colleagues with childcare responsibilities had experienced as a result of the restrictions and childcare/school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey looked into whether and in what way respondents felt their wellbeing, ability to fulfil their workload, career progression and job security had been affected. It also addressed the support that colleagues had experienced at work and asked for input on ways in which the University and the Parent and Family Network could improve their support for working parents.

Almost 400 colleagues from across the University participated in the survey and shared their experiences, and these contributions have been put together into a pandemic impact report.

'It's been like working two full-time jobs: the impact of the pandemic on University of Reading staff with childcare responsibilities.'

This report lays out the main themes from the responses we received, highlights the variability across different areas of the University and makes a number of recommendations. These cover suggested actions to mitigate some of the impacts of the pandemic reported in the survey responses, as well as ways in which the University could become an even better place to work for colleagues with childcare responsibilities.

The release of the report and the anonymised data collected represents a valuable opportunity to start a conversation between the Parent and Family Network and other parts of the University about how childcare responsibilities affect individuals' experience as employees and about how that experience could be improved. Prior to publishing this report, it was shared with members of University Executive Board and a number of the recommendations have already been identified as offering particular potential for collaborative projects going forward. These include:

  • Providing guidance for line managers on how to deal with some of the issues which may be encountered by staff who have childcare responsibilities
  • Reviewing the restrictions on parental leave for colleagues with less than one year's service
  • Looking at how secondment opportunities might benefit working parents.

Professors Parveen Yaqoob (Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board) and Dominik Zaum (UEB Champion for Parents, Families and Carers) welcomed the report and the efforts of the Network to represent all parents at all levels within the University. Professor Yaqoob said:

'Discussion with the Network allowed us to reflect on the extent to which wellbeing resources, advice and resources for home-schooling, messages around flexibility, workshops on promotion and a funded research leave programme had addressed the needs of parents during the pandemic. We agreed that working together to address inconsistencies in support for parents across our organisation would be extremely valuable, and we also identified some examples of excellent practice that we hope to retain and share through collaborative working.'

Colleagues can join the Parent and Family Network channel on Teams.

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