Domestic abuse support and more flexible working needed for women during public health emergencies

Employers need to do more to promote flexible working for women, and provide support to mitigate against violence and domestic abuse during emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

The report, ‘The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women, Employment and Health Inequalities’, highlights how existing inequalities facing women worsened and affected their working lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It highlights opportunities for employers and government to take action to improve women’s health and wellbeing, including addressing working conditions, unequal loss of income, and support for domestic abuse and coercive control.

During the pandemic over three quarters of workers in high-risk roles (including care workers, nurses, medical professionals, paramedics, pharmacists and midwives) were women.  98 per cent of those undertaking these roles and being paid below the median wage were women.

Women are more likely to be carers and make up the majority of lone parents, but despite this half of flexible working requests from working mothers are denied. In addition to challenges in the workforce, Refuge (the UK’s largest domestic abuse organisation) saw a 60 per cent increase in monthly calls during the pandemic period whilst many women were expected to work at home or be furloughed which increased their exposure to violence and domestic abuse. These figures paint a challenging picture of women’s economic, mental and physical health and wellbeing.

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