Psychologist mum-of-two forced to quit work to home-school children

Psychologist mother-of-two says she was forced to quit work to home-school her children after her boss refused to furlough her – as employers are accused of ‘sex discrimination’ against working mums

  • More than 2,000 working mothers have had furlough requests rejected this year 
  • Analise La-Band is a chartered occupational psychologist and mother of two 
  • Told Radio 4 Today that she was forced to quit her job to home school children
  • Employers warned against sex discrimination if they refuse to furlough mothers
  • Have you quit your job in order to home school your children? Email [email protected] 

A psychologist has revealed how she was forced to quit her job to home school her children because her employer refused to furlough her. 

Analise La-Band, a chartered occupational psychologist and mother-of-two, had to quit her job last summer in order to teach her children at home as schools closed during lockdown. 

Her story comes as it emerged more than 2,000 mothers have had their requests to be furloughed refused amid the lockdown this year. 

Employers are now being warned they face an imminent ‘mental health crisis’ and could be guilty of sex discrimination if they refuse to furlough parents. 

Analise La-Band (left) a chartered occupational psychologist and mother-of-two, had to quit her job last summer in order to teach her children at home as schools closed during lockdown. Right, Joeli Brearley, who set up the organisation ‘Pregnant Then Screwed’, which fights for parents’ rights

Seven in 10 requests for furlough turned down for working mothers 

According to a study by the Trade Union Congress union, nearly three-quarters of working mothers who have applied for furlough following the latest school closures have had their requests turned down. 

Of those 3,100 who requested furlough, around 2,200 (71%) had their request turned down. 

It also found that some 78 per cent hadn’t been offered furlough by their employers. 

And 2 in 5 (40%) of all mothers who replied were unaware that the furlough scheme was available to parents affected by school or nursery closures.

Nearly all (90%) of those who replied said that their anxiety and stress levels had increased during this latest lockdown.

And almost half (48%) were worried about being treated negatively by their employers because of their childcare responsibilities.

Around half (44%) of mums told the TUC they were worried about the impact having to take time off work would have on their household finances.

A quarter (25%) of mums were using annual leave to manage their childcare – but nearly 1 in 5 (18%) had been forced to reduce their working hours and around 1 in 14 (7%) were taking unpaid leave from work and receiving no income.

Source: TUC 

Ms La-Band told Radio 4’s Today programme that she was forced to resign due to the pressures of home schooling. 

The mother-of-two said: ‘Unfortunately I was forced to resign last summer as a result of the difficulty of trying to balance work and home school. 

‘My request for furlough was rejected and I didn’t see any other option so I’ve not been working since. 

‘I’m obviously very concerned with how I can maintain my career and get into the workforce again at some point, having had to make a very difficult decision to withdraw from it when i really wouldn’t have had i had any other choice at the time.’ 

The job retention scheme currently allows bosses to furlough parents who can’t work due to a lack of childcare.

But the Trade Union Congress revealed that more than 2,000 working mothers, or 70 per cent, have had furlough requests turned down following the recent school closures. 

Joeli Brearley, who set up the organisation ‘Pregnant Then Screwed’, which fights for parents’ rights. 

She told the BBC that bosses who are rejecting furlough requests could be guilty of ‘indirect sex discrimination’ if they refuse to furlough working mothers. 

She also warned of a mental health crisis as burnt out parents are being forced to work 17-hour days, incorporating six hours of tuition into their working day. 

She said couples are taking it in turns to do home schooling, beginning work at 5am then rotating child care and working late into the night. 

She told MailOnline: ‘Women are now just walking out of their jobs because they just can’t keep doing it, and their mental health is so bad. They’re walking away.

‘Our analysis from ONS data shows that women aged between 25 and 34 have the highest per cent of redundancies and between August and October last year, women were 60 per cent more likely to be unemployed than men. 

‘It’s so concerning having mothers out of the workforce because it’s so dificult to get them back in. 

‘We should be deeply concerned about it, because it is about child poverty at the end of the day it – it affects whole families.’

Rishi Sunak’s job retention scheme currently allows bosses to furlough parents who can’t work due to a lack of childcare

She told Radio 4: ‘Many are not getting any break whatsoever…you’ve got six hours of unpaid work you now need to cram in to you job.

‘The average day has increase from 9 hours to 11 hours under lockdown – that’s already 17 hours of work you have to do before you consider cooking or cleaning or shopping or sleeping, or doing anything for yourself whatsoever. 

‘We’re hearing from frantic mothers who are completely burnt out and their mental health is rapidly deteriorating.

‘They can request to be furloughed and we would hope that their employer would consider that – but 70 per cent of mothers who’ve requested to be furloughed have had that request rejected. 

‘That could be indirect sex discrimination, because the caring responsibilities usually fall to women. 

‘And so if [employers] say you can’t be furloughed, that could be perceived as sex discrimination. 

‘We would really ask them to seriously consider that and if they don’t, they’re they’re going to have a mental health crisis on their hands. 

‘Over the summer between a third and 40 per cent of employers made redundancies so many are surviving on skeletal staff and desperately trying to rebuild their business.

‘Of course they need their employees, and they need them on full productivity, but sadly we’re seeing mothers being pushed out of their jobs because they’re unable to work on full productivity.’

According to a study by the Trade Union Congress union, nearly three-quarters of working mothers who have applied for furlough following the latest school closures have had their requests turned down (file photo)

Founder of the blog Mother Pukka, Anna Whitehouse added: ‘What working parents have been tasked with in lockdown is not humanly possible. 

‘You’re looking at an average eight hour working day, six hour school day, 12 hours of parenting wrapped around that – that’s 26 hours in a 24 hour day. And I’m hearing daily from women who are stepping back, standing down and logging off because they’re burning out.

‘Some are quitting out of choice, many not. Because who looks after kids home-schooling? Who looks after pandemic patients when out of hospital? Who takes a Tesco shop to elderly neighbours? Who runs community What’s App groups making sure everyone has everything they need?’  

Now Wales says it will join Scotland in reopening schools ‘straight after the half-term break’ on February 22 – after Boris Johnson completely ruled out sending children back in England before March 8 at the EARLIEST

By Jason Groves Political Editor for MailOnline 

Boris Johnson was coming under increasing pressure to speed up the reopening of English schools today as Wales confirmed its intention to restart some primary classes after the February half term.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething confirmed that some of the youngest age groups would go back to school from February 22 under a similar plan to that underway in Scotland.

In contrast, English schools are not due to reopen until March 8, and the Prime Minister last night was resisting mounting pressure to accelerate.

Tory MPs called for the move after new research showed that as well as saving lives, the Oxford vaccine will cut transmission of the virus by two-thirds.

There was also concern that with English pupils risk falling further behind their counterparts.

Mr Gething told Times Radio that the ‘first priority’ for the Welsh Government is to start a return to face-to-face teaching in some schools, despite coronavirus cases being ‘quite high’. 

‘We’ve got to go in small steps and schools are the first priority and hopefully, straight after the half-term break, we’ll be able to see our youngest children return to face-to-face learning in primary schools,’ he said.

Wales currently has a Covid infection rate of between 127 and 135 people per 100,000, broadly similar to that in Scotland. England’s rate is around 269 per 100,000. 

The Prime Minister last night insisted that schools cannot reopen before March 8 at the earliest. 

He said he shared the ‘urgency’ of those wanting children back in the classroom, but warned that an earlier return could spark another upsurge in the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured at the Downing Street briefing yesterday) is resisting mounting pressure to accelerate the reopening of schools across England

Mr Johnson said: ‘To people who understandably want to go faster – I share that anxiety and urgency. That is why we fought to keep schools open. 

‘What we don’t want to do now that we are making progress with the vaccine rollout and we have got a timetable for the way ahead, we don’t want to be forced into reverse.

‘We think this is the prudent and cautious approach. I think it is much better to stick to that.’

But Robert Halfon, Tory chairman of the Commons education committee, urged ministers to ‘think again’ about the decision to set March 8 as the earliest possible date for a return to the classroom.

Young pupils arrive at Manor Park School and Nursery in Knutsford, Cheshire, last month

Mr Halfon pointed out that a Public Health England study last week found there was a ‘strong case’ for the return of primary schools, where outbreaks have been low.

‘If the health experts say it’s safe and Scotland can do it, why can’t we?’ he said. ‘We have got the four horsemen of the education apocalypse coming down the track – attainment, mental health, safeguarding and loss of future prospects and wages.

‘We need to think again because the damage is growing by the day.’ 

Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs, said the encouraging news on vaccines meant it was time for ministers to start addressing ‘the harms caused by the measures we’re putting in place to control Covid, as well as the harms caused by Covid itself’.

Oscar Mumby, 10, and Harriet Mumby, 8, are helped with their online schoolwork by their mother Jo Mumby in Cuckfield, West Sussex, last week as schools continue to be closed

Mr Harper said Scotland’s decision to press ahead with the reopening of schools meant ‘there needs to be a very good reason for keeping English schools shut for so much longer’.

He added: ‘Every hour of classroom learning lost is a tragedy for the nation’s children and the schools shutdown is having a huge impact on children’s health and welfare.’

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The Government needs to be flexible about schools going back. If the evidence supports it, then we should be getting children back to school earlier than expected.’

Ministers are nervous about the public reaction later this month if children in Scotland and Wales are allowed back to the classroom while those in England are forced to endure more weeks of home learning.

A Downing Street source denied the Government was dragging its feet, saying the case rate in England was double that in Scotland. ‘Opening schools is our top priority, but it is still too early,’ the source said.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty also warned about rushing the return to school. 

He said there was ‘no doubt’ that schools were safe, with the risk to children ‘incredibly low’, but he warned that allowing them to return too soon risked sparking another surge in the virus.

The Government has appointed a ‘catch-up’ tsar to oversee a huge programme designed to help children make up for their lost education.

Education expert Sir Kevan Collins will lead a taskforce devising catch-up plans, which are expected to include summer schools and an expansion of one-to-one tuition to help those who have fallen behind. 

Hundreds of teachers in London ‘book Covid vaccine through NHS booking link sent on Whatsapp’ – as parts of the country begin jabbing over-60s 

By Luke Andrews for MailOnline 

Hundreds of teachers in London are booking coronavirus vaccinations using an NHS link, it has been suggested, while other areas are rolling out jabs to over-60s.

A staff member at a school in the capital, who has not been named, claimed today he had secured an appointment after receiving access to the system via Whatsapp.

‘A friend of ours at another school had received an email from their friend,’ said the teacher, who has no underlying health conditions and is not over 70 years old.

‘She quoted the email the person had received apparently from a senior leader at their school. The quote was that Barts Health Authority was vaccinating teachers with their leftover vaccines and then it went on to give a link from the Barts booking system and a password to use.’

It comes amid reports over-60s are also now receiving their first doses in Greater Manchester, despite over-80s in the area still waiting for their shots.

NHS England figures show 86.5 per cent of over-80s in the area have been vaccinated, alongside 88.1 per cent of 75 to 79-year-olds and 56 per cent of those aged 70 to 74 years old.

Labour has repeatedly called for teachers to be bumped up the jabs priority list, arguing it could get children back behind their desks earlier.

Hundreds of teachers in London have been securing vaccine appointments via an NHS link. There is no suggestion that the teacher pictured has booked a Covid-19 vaccination early

But Boris Johnson has said even with a successful vaccines rollout classrooms in England will remain empty until March 8 at the earliest, when ministers hope high infection rates will have plummeted to much lower levels.

Labour won a majority of seats in the capital during the last general election, managing to cling on to 49 of 73 while its support collapsed in the North.

The Prime Minister is aiming to get 13.9million of the most vulnerable – over-70s, care home residents, NHS staff and the vulnerable – jabbed by mid-February.

But moves by health officials to give shots to those outside the top groups will raise fears over a vaccines postcode lottery, as some areas steam ahead.

NHS data show the rollout is going almost four times faster in South East London for those aged 70 to 74, compared to Devon which is trailing behind.

And it suggests there are almost 300,000 over-80s still waiting for their first dose in England, as the drive steams through its ninth week.

Ministers have so far resisted calls to bump teachers up the vaccination list, saying they will follow the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommendations.

Speaking in an anonymous capacity to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the teacher revealed he had been able to book an appointment through the Barts Health system.

‘I was sceptical that it would accept the appointment right up to the point it was confirmed,’ he said.

‘I thought during the booking process, if it wasn’t something I was entitled to, I thought there would be something that would close it down or would refuse the appointment.

‘But I went through the booking system and entered my details, my school details, my job details and then received a confirmation of the appointment itself.’

The chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Martin Marshall, warned there was ‘certainly a risk’ of this happening during complicated vaccine rollouts.

‘I think the problem that has arisen is one that has arisen for a number of reasons,’ he said.

‘Most likely it was a genuine mistake that a link code an password that was sent out for Barts Health staff inadvertently found its way into the hands of teachers who were confused as to whether they were really in the priority group or not.’

He added: ‘There is an issue of the importance of not wasting the vaccine. So all clinics, including GP clinics, who are currently bring about 75 per cent of all the vaccinations in the country, at the end of the day or at the end of a batch, which can last for only about five days, you often have some vaccinations left over and then you’ll search around to make sure you can give them to somebody as high priority as possible rather than wasting them.’

It was revealed in The Times today that over-60s are being offered Covid-19 vaccinations in Greater Manchester.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told the paper they would not stand in the way of areas picking up the pace to rollout vaccines to other groups.

‘It’s for individual areas to ensure the rollout of the vaccination programme and there are some areas that have done a higher proportion of the top four groups,’ they said.

‘We want to build on the momentum of the vaccine programme so for those in the cohorts just below the top four groups, we will ensure that we roll the vaccination programme out to them as soon as possible.’

An MP in the area, who has not been named, said over-65s in their constituency and other parts of the North West had already been vaccinated after receiving letters last week.

Barts Health has been contacted for comment.

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