Carrying the work burden of the Covid-19 pandemic: working class women in the UK

  • Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:0 publications

Grant number: ES/V009400/1

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    University of Nottingham
  • Research Category

    Secondary impacts of disease, response & control measures

  • Research Subcategory

    Social impacts

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group

    Adults (18 and older)

  • Vulnerable Population


  • Occupations of Interest



Working class women are carrying the burden of the extra physical and emotional labour being generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These women care for children, sick and frail elderly, clean buildings, cook and serve food, administer institutions and staff shops, while retaining major responsibility for domestic work and caring at home. The Women's Budget Group (WBG) highlighted that 2.5 million of the 3.2 million workers employed in the highest risk roles during the pandemic are women, many in low-paid roles. There is little detailed attention to their experiences and needs and how to urgently support them in their essential work. The pandemic has created job loss, work instability, financial hardship and great insecurity. Working class women are heavily impacted (WBG 2020; Fawcett Society 2020). There has been time squeeze and work intensification for some, a desperate search for new jobs for others, alongside more unpaid care with school and nursery closures. What is not yet known is how working class women are responding in real time to the various, and as yet potentially unknown, pressures imposed by the virus. If they are unable to manage the existing and additional pressures placed upon them, workplaces, child and elder care will all be severely affected. The project is in collaboration with the WBG, the leading independent organisation that deals with the impact of policy on women's lives. We will analyse data from the ESRC's flagship 'UK Household Longitudinal Study', including vital new information being gathered on the impact of COVID-19. This will be a large nationally-representative study as the pandemic effects roll out over the next year. This project will deliver a significant contribution to the understanding of, and response to, the pandemic. It will rapidly fill an urgent need by identifying and responding to difficulties experienced by working class women in real time. With WBG, it will start to disseminate early findings and urgent policy solutions to employers, unions, government, key charities and lobby groups within two months of starting. This is crucial if working class women are to continue to carry the additional strain of increased work and home demands during the pandemic.