Kirsty Blackwell MP needs a Family Friendly Employer too!

An MP has been censured by Commons authorities for bringing her children to work. Like many other working parents at this time of year, Kirsty Blackman experienced childcare difficulties while her children were off school for the summer. Speaking today, Blackman comments:

“We must push for change to ensure that parliament is more family friendly and that parents of young children find it easier to stand for parliament and easier to undertake their roles”.

Blackman is not the first working mother to call for a more flexible approach from her employer. Last year Employers For Childcare asked local parents about the impact becoming a parent had on their employment, working life and career. Worryingly, 91% of parents said it was difficult to combine work with family commitments and responsibilities.

The findings, which can be found in our ‘Striking the Balance’ report, showed how crucial the role of the employer is in ensuring that parents achieve a suitable work-life balance. Family friendly employers can support employees in a number of ways which are beneficial for parents and also reap benefits for the employer themselves.

How can employers better support working parents?

To support employers we created the ‘How to be a Family Friendly Employer’ guide, here are 5 ways employers can better support parents:

  1. Practice increased flexibility
    This could be through the provision of policies, such as flexitime, home-working or job-share. However, a flexible approach could simply include facilitating parents when they need to take time off to deal with emergencies.
  2. Ensure equality of opportunity
    Numerous parents have told us that once they were on a part-time contact they were no longer eligible to apply for senior roles, or conversely managers or senior officials felt that they could no longer request flexibility.
  3. Provide better information
    Provide better, up-front, information on the policies which are available to parents, both statutory entitlements and company policy.
  4. Offer Childcare Support
    Employers can help with the childcare bill through providing the Childcare Voucher Scheme, which helps parents save up to £1,800 per year. Making available onsite childcare is another option, it is convenient for parents and can also help save money on the cost though the Workplace Nurseries Scheme.
  5. Be more understanding
    Many parents simply call on their employer to be more understanding of working parents and their needs, for example being more approachable and open to supporting parents and discussing flexibility.

Kirsty Blackman has highlighted that there is still much work to be done by employers, government, and organisations like ourselves to help working parents create a suitable work-life balance.

For more detailed information read our ‘How to be a Family Friendly Employer’ guide, or to read the full ‘Striking the Balance’ findings click here.

Are You a Family Friendly Employer?

There are already numerous fantastic examples of family-friendly employers in Northern Ireland, many of which are showcased in our annual Family Friendly Employer Awards. The applications are open for this year’s awards, click here for more information.