A return to office working cannot risk young women’s jobs and health

For many young women who have spent the last four months working from home juggling unpaid care responsibilities and protecting their health, the reports that the Prime Minister will be ordering workers back to the office will be a worrying message. Sophie Walker, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust comments, “We urge the Government to avoid another one size fits all approach as we have seen previously in this crisis and has disadvantaged women.

“We are about to go into a summer period when schools and nurseries not already closed for Covid-19 will shut their doors until September, while already scant and struggling childcare providers come under increased pressure. Carers, and those needing care – vulnerable older people, disabled people, those who need to keep shielding – cannot just drop everything and go to the office. We are concerned that women risk finding themselves lower down the pecking order to their male colleagues who are able to return to the office.

“We also seek reassurances for young women that they will be provided with the correct protective gear, if needed for their job, that fits them properly and offers the confidence they deserve in order to return to work.

“We also need a plan for public transport: if the Prime Minister is encouraging workers to avoid travelling at certain times, how will this work around school and nursery drop-off if things do return to normal by September? This sort of detail must be included in the expected plan on Friday.

“For many young women who have been stuck working from home in shared or unsuitable accommodation, a safe return to the office will no doubt come as a relief. We are still in the middle of a pandemic and the Government must be clear that this shift in guidance is not mandatory and that young women won’t be pushed or punished by their employer if they choose to stay working from home.”

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