Family friendly working: It’s now or never

Rebecca Bridges discusses the modern requirement to allow more flexible working arrangements for employees looking to have a family.

Since the launch of shared parental leave in April 2015, it appears that the culture of a work-life balance is picking up steam on a global scale. With media giants Netflix announcing their ‘unlimited’ leave for new parents, and Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs increasing parental leave, this is a pivotal time for your business to embrace this cultural shift and pass on the benefits to employees looking to have a family.

The working laws which were set earlier this year were intended to enable working families the opportunity to share the responsibilities of childcare, and has been hailed as one of the most transformative family-friendly policies to date. 

Of course for small businesses, these laws can be overwhelming and often looked at as impossible for a smaller company to implement. Many have deemed excessive parental leave as a PR stunt that is simply unachievable because the need to have enough people available for vital work puts a limit on the amount of time you can realistically afford to give to staff.

But without the correct guidance it can make your employees feel chained to their desks with the overhanging ultimatum of work versus family. When you’ve grown your team and invested in their development the last thing you need as a small business is the extra cost of replacing your talented team.

The over-ruling factor of an effective family-friendly policy is the simple fact that you’re going to encourage your staff to stay and continue to be productive. They will know that they can continue their career after their children without fear of a penalty. The stigma that has often been associated around working parents needs to be tackled and the only way this can happen is with all employees given the reassurance that they can take this leave and not feel as though they’re being a hindrance to the growth of the business.

Adapting your business to suit the needs of your employees will ensure that you can harness talent rather than loose it to your competitors who are more flexible.

This shift is nothing new, and the trend of what you can do for employees rather than what they can do for you, is becoming increasingly important for millennials and Generation Y who have strong beliefs in balance. Even those looking for careers will quickly analyse the company ethics and make decisions purely based on the benefits that the business can offer. If talent is hard to come by in your sector than you should be harnessing the leave you have available as a recruitment tool.

If you’re unable to keep your employees satisfied your business will quickly become obsolete and you will struggle to find staff that can deliver effectively. It’s not as simple as just offering this time in a contract, as an employer you must be passionate about instigating this change and encourage your team to take the leave.

Parental leave is no longer seen as a purely female issue and that’s exactly what this law addresses, both men and women need to be nudged to use this time that is theirs by right.

Happy parents are happy workers, and supporting them with these rights will enable your business to succeed with a team of employees who will pay you back with hard work and dedication. 

Rebecca Bridges is a solicitor and a specialist in the fields of employment and immigration law at Taylor Rose

Further reading on work-life balance

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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