Working parents in the UK with young children are spending a large proportion of their salary on childcare, putting a "huge pressure" on family budgets amid the cost of living crisis.
According to a new Trades Union Congree (TUC) report, 32% of working parents across all age groups with pre-school children spend 10% of their wages on childcare needs, while 19% spend more than a third.
A further 18% spend between a third and half their salary on childcare, while 15% said the costs take up more than half of their pay.
Black and minority ethnic and disabled working parents are particularly likely to spend more of their income on childcare bills, according to the TUC.
One in three BME parents told the group that they spend over a third of their pay packet on childcare, and 12% have childcare costs of more than half their wages, compared to 16% and 6% of white workers.
More than a third (35%) of disabled parents said they spend over a third of their pay, with 15%) spending over half their salary on childcare (compared to 16% and 6% of non-disabled workers).
The TUC says this is due to discrimination in the jobs market as BME and disabled workers are much more likely to be in low-paid jobs.
The union body urged the government to come up with a long-term plan to increase wages in the UK and is asking ministers to raise the minimum wage to at least £10 ($13) an hour.
It also wants the government to work with unions and employers on industry-wide fair pay agreements to improve living standards.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: "Parents are spending a massive chunk of their pay packets on childcare bills, while their wages stagnate.
"This is putting huge pressure on family budgets. We desperately need a plan to get wages rising across the economy, or too many families will have to choose between turning their heating on or putting food on the table.
"Every worker in Britain should be paid a wage they can live on – that goes up with the cost of living."
Additionally, it also called for a cash boost for the sector to give childcare workers better wages, and a long-term funding settlement to ensure childcare is affordable and available for families.
TUC argues that childcare is a vital part of our economic recovery. "Investing in good quality, affordable childcare would support working parents and help the sector recover from the pandemic," it said.
Watch: How to save money on a low income