Increased support for women in the workplace would help to make their working lives more manageable, says the union UNISON, by allowing more autonomy of when, where, and for how long they work.
The union (which represents more than a million female staff including key workers in the NHS, social welfare, and local government) says the pandemic has had a harder impact on women, especially those with commitments like child care and family duties.
Recent UNISON research shows that almost half of their female members are at risk of burnout due to the pandemic.
Of the people surveyed, two-fifths (40%) said they were not helped at work during Covid, and the other two-fifths (80%) said that they were fearful of catching the virus as a result.
Nevertheless, almost half (54%) thought they had not spent enough time with their families.
The results show that 21% serve a caregiver task with an adult, which includes the needs of partners or elderly parents, for example.
Having the freedom to work flexible hours would help women manage their responsibilities and commitments, both at home and at work, according to UNISON.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Women key workers have helped keep this country running during the Covid-19 crisis. This is often while supporting sick relatives and caring for young families.
“The pandemic has hammered home how many women need more flexible hours to have a fulfilling work life and deal with family commitments. The government must step up to ensure employers give women a fairer deal over hours.
“But not only are they still expected to be the primary carer, society continues to put a low value on huge numbers of jobs mainly done by women.
“This has to change. Women’s voices must be at the heart of our Covid recovery.”
The findings come from a report published by UNISON last month that was based on a survey of 46,894 women key workers.
They worked in schools (29%); the NHS/healthcare (29%); social care (11%), local government (14%); police, justice and probation (3%); higher and further education (6%); charities, voluntary organisations or housing associations (2%), and other settings including transport and energy (6%).