As we look towards another end of term, how do you, as an employer, support working parents?
Pupils and teachers may be eagerly anticipating a week of downtime, late-nights, and lie-ins. But, the same can't always be said for working parents.
School holidays might seem like the perfect opportunity for parents to spend time with their children. Yet, many parents are still working professionals who have to attend important meetings, meet work deadlines, and pursue their career ambitions. This can cause unneeded pressure and stress.
Research shows that 64% of working mothers struggle to manage school holidays as well as work responsibilities. A further 60% said that when employers deny their time off requests, this negatively impacts their relationship with their children and makes them feel "like a bad parent."
When work requests or denied or discouraged, employers are more likely to pull a ‘sickie’ and skip work during the school holidays. And, as most employers know, sick leave can negatively impact your productivity, team morale and bottom line.
A lose-lose for both parties.
But this doesn't need to be the case. There are some excellent ways employers can step up to the plate and support working parents to reduce some of the stress caused by school holidays.
Using Your Leave?
While school holidays can be a stressful time for parents to get days off, working parents are entitled to both paid and unpaid leave.
Holiday entitlement is a popular choice for working parents wanting to take time off work. All employees are legally entitled to at least 5.6 weeks of paid leave, which unfortunately doesn’t cover the 13 weeks of school holidays plus other in-service days.
Working parents also have the right to take up to four weeks of unpaid leave, per child, per year. This entitlement provides working parents with up to 13 weeks' leave, but is only available for parents with children under the age of 17. Employees must also give employer 21 days notice if they want to use any unpaid leave.
An employee can legally request flexible working hours once they’ve been with the company for 26 weeks. Requests are made either through a statutory request, which gives the employer a time frame of three months to grant flexible hours. Or, through non-statutory requests.
What Options are Available for Working Parents?
Believe it or not, there are multiple ways to support working parents during the school holidays.
Flexible Working Hours
Flexible working is one of the best ways for employees to achieve a better work-life balance. This can be as simple as allowing employees to start work later or finish earlier so parents can be around more for their children during school holidays.
There are tonnes of benefits for both the employer and employee when flexible working hours are introduced, including:
- Happier employees & higher productivity. In a recent survey, 20% of working parents said they are "much more productive due to flexible working hours." A further 15% added that they're "happier" as it means they now have more family time.
- Increased talent. When flexible hours are offered, working parents are more likely to take a job or promotion. In-fact, only two-fifths of working parents were offered flexible working hours before or during their interview. While there’s still some room for improvement, this figure suggests that employers are starting to understand the benefits of flexible working.
Another way to help accommodate your working parents could be offering to do some work remotely during the summer or half-term breaks. While parents are still available for important calls and meetings, they also fulfill their duties from the comfort of their own home which reduces their childcare costs significantly.
Benefits of remote working include:
- Less time spent commuting. Working parents usually have travel expenses, therefore having the option to work remotely helps cut employee costs.
- Career Advancement. Research shows that 36% of working parents would prefer to work from home and will turn down positions that don’t allow them to do so to achieve a healthier work-life balance.
Top Tips for Supporting Working Parents.
As an employer, there are multiple ways to support working parents during the school holidays.
- Provide more flexibility with deadlines during the school holiday period.
- Avoid scheduling any diary buster meetings.
- Allow employees to leave work early and pick up again after the kids have gone to bed.
- Measure employee performance by output rather than presenteeism.
- Ask employees without children to provide additional cover.
- Consider alternative flexible working arrangements like compressed or term-time hours.
- Acknowledge that working parents feel guilty, either way and be empathetic to their needs.
Hire with Change Recruitment
At Change Recruitment, we pride ourselves on helping employers find the best talent for their team. And aim to help everyone achieve a healthy work-life balance and create a happy working environment.
Find out more about recruiting with Change Recruitment here or contact one of our dedicated recruitment consultants.
Other Relevant Articles.
Discover how some public practice firms have started to offer flexible working and promote diversity. Learn more about flexible working in public practice firms in our recent article.
Read our recent article to learn how employers can help parents get back into the swing of things after maternity/paternity leave.