Guernsey Press

Invest in people who work in order for them to remain in the island

GONE are the days when a sole person could support a whole household (unless that person is very rich). Guernsey and Guernsey companies need to step up for the new (working) parents or they will move away, resulting in the so-called brain drain.


It is not news that Guernsey is an expensive island to live in. Most sectors are struggling to find and retain staff. Many people are moving elsewhere for better value for their money. Young people go to university, never to return.

We all know the issues with housing and the general increase in cost of living. Yet another expense that is worth another mortgage and many can’t afford is having children. While the States or Guernsey companies cannot magically create more housing, they can invest in the people who work for them in order for them to remain in the island and even produce offspring for Guernsey’s future.

I am a 30-year-old woman, married, a very lucky property owner, university-educated, and I work full-time and so does my husband. We both earn a somewhat good, but average wage. ‘When will you have a baby?’, people keep asking us. ‘We can’t afford them’, we say. We can’t afford the mostly unpaid maternity leave and the extortionate child-care costs that will follow whilst cost of living costs keep increasing. We don’t have many relatives in the island who may share the responsibility with us.

Another problem we face is that for most of my career I have earned more than my husband, which means that we would lose a major part of our household income should I go on maternity leave, while he doesn’t have the choice to take time off work.

The States does offer some financial support for new mothers, but this is a very small amount compared to an actual living wage one needs to put aside to have a baby.

Our first option is to wait a few more years and save up after which we would be in a better position to try for a baby. It doesn’t sound so bad until the cramped flat that we live in becomes too small for three and we’ll need to up-size, let alone have more than one child. The risks of pregnancy also drastically increase the more you wait.

Our second option is to move off-island to a place that is more affordable, family-friendly and will offer a more secure future for us and our future children. This is our plan in the next few years as staying is simply unsustainable at this rate.

But some people do want to stay or do not have the choice to move away. Those people are the future of Guernsey. Those people, and their children, are what the States and Guernsey companies should be concentrating on.

Let me spell it out for you:

By giving mothers and fathers equal rights for parental leave (after the mother has recovered from giving birth), by subsidising child care as well as increasing maternity/paternity benefit to something close to a living wage, this great island might just avoid losing its most valuable people – the young, educated and hard-working individuals who have somehow been forgotten about while tending to the super-rich and the unemployed.