Businesses risk losing key employees due to the ‘high cost of childcare’, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned.
In a study of more than 1,600 business leaders carried out by the BCC and Middlesex University, over a quarter of firms said staff had reduced their working hours as a result of childcare costs.
One in 10 said workers had actually quit the workplace because of the issue.
Of those leaders surveyed, some 33% claimed the availability of childcare was ‘a key issue in recruiting and retaining staff’.
Three and four-year-olds are currently entitled to 15 hours of free childcare per week, although this is set to be doubled to 30 hours from April 2017.
The move has been welcomed by many firms, with 39% of businesses saying the increased entitlement will have a positive impact on their ability to recruit staff.
However, the BCC is urging the government to take further action and consider introducing a universal childcare entitlement for every child up until they start school.
Commenting on the findings, BCC Director General, Adam Marshall, said: ‘Firms across the UK are losing talented staff, often because of the availability and high cost of childcare.
‘At a time when economic growth is softening, and skills gaps and recruitment difficulties are hindering businesses, the government should consider the childcare system as part of Britain’s core business infrastructure – in the same way that it thinks of energy, transport, or broadband.’
He added: ‘As businesses have evolved to become more flexible, government policy should also evolve – to help as many working parents as possible stay in the workplace.’