According to Fiona Leppan, director at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer’s Employment Practice, while many factors led to women being on the receiving end of gender-skewed labour market practices, added domestic responsibilities were a factor. Questioning whether South African employers were “sufficiently receptive to the additional burden of family responsibility” over lockdown, Leppan said women were disadvantaged.
“What I’m noticing when speaking to my clients, is that many employers are expecting their employees to carry on as normal – something that just isn’t always possible,” she said.
“With the extended closure of schools, families have had to balance childcare, home-schooling and employment – a juggling act that has taken strain on many working parents.” The domestic work ratio was likely to get “even further skewed with the increased prevalence of work-from-home”.
Explained Leppan: “Studies suggest that for families with two working parents, the shift to working from home will likely result in fathers prioritising their work more, while mothers turn more of their focus towards family responsibilities – something that will hamper their professional prospects.”