Children staying at home affecting work life of over half of parents in Estonia

  • 2020-05-09
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Pirjo Turk, adviser at the work and pension policy department of the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, said on the basis of a survey carried out in April that the work of 60 percent of parents has been affected by distance learning or the recommendation to keep children at home from kindergarten.

"The current emergency situation has placed a particularly heavy burden on working parents by organizing work and study at home. Therefore, we decided to look more closely at the age of children the parents of whom have been most affected by the changes in work during the emergency situation, in which sectors the changes have been most difficult for working parents, and how the income of families has changed," Turk said, referring to a survey carried out by pollster Turu-uuringute AS in April.

It appears from the survey that 36 percent of parents are working remotely or teleworking more than before. By way of comparison, job portal CVKeskus.ee in late March published its own analysis regarding the use of teleworking, in which it appeared that 30 percent of employees are working remotely during the emergency situation in Estonia. Thus, it can be concluded that there are somewhat more opportunities for working remotely among working parents. This is probably also due to the fact that, compared to all employed people in Estonia, there are more employees with higher education among parents, based on the 2019 labor survey. "Our analysis showed that namely parents with higher education have more opportunities to work remotely -- this was stated by 67 percent of parents with higher education. The opportunity to work remotely was also higher among Estonian-speaking parents, 42 percent, compared to Russian-speaking parents, 20 percent," Turk said.

By regions, teleworking is less common in northeastern Estonia, with 19 percent of parents in East-Viru County working remotely, and most common in northern Estonia, with 43 percent of parents working remotely in Harju County. Public sector employees have greater opportunities to work remotely, with 60 percent of parents working in the public sector saying they are working remotely, while only 30 percent of private sector employees said they are teleworking.

Almost one in three or 32 percent of parents has seen a decrease in workload, but about one in seven has seen an increase in workload. As there are more opportunities for public sector employees to work remotely, this explains why the workload decreased more in the private sector, for 37 percent of respondents, compared to the public sector, 14 percent of respondents. The emergency situation has led to increased workload for education sector workers, 36 percent of respondents, and health and social care workers, 42 percent of respondents, which also explains why the increase in workload has been noted more by parents working in the public sector, 28 percent. Parents with higher education have also said that their workload has increased, in the case of 21 percent, compared to other parents.

The work schedule changed significantly for slightly more than a quarter, that is 27 percent, of parents and the content of work changed significantly for a fifth, 21 percent, of parents. The change in the work schedule affects public sector employees more, with 39 percent of respondents admitting it, especially employees in the education sector, but also employees in the accommodation and catering and wholesale and retail trade sectors in the private sector.

Leave has been taken due to the emergency situation by only 4 percent of parents, who said they had to take some paid leave, like annual leave, while 2 percent said they had to take some unpaid leave, like unpaid maternity leave.

As of mid-April, only 3 percent of parents reported becoming unemployed. Individual entrepreneurs have suffered the most in this respect, with 17 percent of respondents saying they have become unemployed.

More than half of the parents surveyed, or 60 percent, have been fully or partially affected by the fact that their children are on a so-called home regime. Parents working in education or health and social care have been most affected, 85 percent and 75 percent, respectively. However, parents who work in construction have been the least affected -- 58 percent of people working in this sector said that their work was not affected by their children being home.

The survey revealed that the younger the children in the family, the more the parents' work has been affected by children's distance learning and being at home from kindergarten.

Although the vast majority, or 59 percent, of parents answered that their income has not decreased due to the emergency situation, there is more than a third, or 36 percent, of those parents whose income has decreased due to the emergency situation, while 5 percent have lost their income.