The Government is exploring the possibility of a new law requiring all employers with more than 250 employees to publish details of their family-friendly policies.
A family-friendly employer is one whose policies make it possible for employees to more easily balance family and work, and to fulfill both their family and work obligations. While this definition often applies to government, a major employer, as well, government has another function in promoting family-friendly policies.
What are the advantages to business and family?
Many of the family-friendly policies of government are those laws, regulations, and social policies that recognise the importance of families to society, and act to meet the needs of children, parents, disabled family members, and the older generation. They are in the best interest of employers; and, in the long run, they benefit communities and society in general.
Some of the specific reasons why family-friendly policies are worth striving for:
Employees can exercise more control
Studies have shown that it’s control that influences employees’ health. Whether an employee’s family responsibilities involve children, an ill spouse, an elderly relative, or his/her own health, policies that make it easier to balance work and family will make life more manageable. Those with stressful jobs and very little control over them are most at risk for stress-related illnesses and leaving their job.
Employees using family-friendly policies are more productive.
Studies show that family-friendly policies in the workplace lead to higher productivity. Knowing that family obligations are taken care of make it possible for employees to concentrate more on their work.
It helps employers keep valuable employees
By being flexible with working practices an employer promotes loyalty and retains employees for longer. Training costs are therefore reduced and employees with the knowledge and experience of the business don’t take it with them to another employer.
Attract new employees
Family-friendly employers have more to offer new job candidates and are therefore able to recruit and hire the best. In many cases job seekers are willing to take a lower salary in return for the flexibility or other benefits that a family-friendly policy offers.
What can an employer offer an employee?
- Flex-time. For employees with family obligations, control of their time may be the most valuable benefit an employer can give. Flex-time allows people to choose when they work, as long as they put in their hours every week. This could mean a four day instead of a five day week or starting the day later or earlier than normal.
- Job sharing. Two employees may share a single position, by each working a fraction of the necessary time. In that way, people can hold, or continue to hold, the position they want and take care of other family responsibilities.
- Temporary or permanent switch to part-time. A full-time employee might be allowed to change to a part-time position – either as part of a job share, or simply as a reduction in working hours – and still continue in the same position.
- Allowing work away from the workplace An employee may work from home or some other remote site some or all of the time. Telecommunications nowadays allows people to work at locations anywhere in the world, regardless of the location of the actual workplace.
Businesses with winning Family-Friendly policies
In September 2018 the charity Working Families published it’s latest list of the UK’s most family-friendly workplaces.
To gain a place in the top-rankings, organisations had to answer a series of in-depth questions on their policies and how they worked in practice and how the impact of family-friendly working was evidenced through data.
The Intellectual Property Office – the IPO has been listed for the second year. Dominic Houlihan, director of people, places and services said:
“ The IPO is a great place to work. We are committed to the physical and mental wellbeing of our people. This includes policies that support our people to balance work and family life.
An environment where people can meet their full potential is also one which delivers for customers. We retain valuable skills and are better able to respond to changes in the business environment.”
If, as an employer or employee, you need advice on ‘a family-friendly work policy please get in touch and see if we can help.