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Global Day of Parents 2021: What can your business do to support working parents?

In 2012, the United Nations assembly (‘UN’) designated 1 June each year as the ‘Global day of Parents’.  The UN said: “Emphasizing the critical role of parents in the rearing of children, the ‘Global Day of Parents’ recognizes that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children. For the full and harmonious development of their personality, children should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding”

The continuing covid pandemic has placed tremendous strain on working parents all over the world and the UN acknowledge that families have had to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, they stated: “As the anchors of the family and the foundation of our communities and societies, parents have the responsibility of sheltering their families from harm, caring for out-of-school children and, at the same time, continuing their work responsibilities. Without support from parents, children’s health, education and emotional well-being is at risk”.  In respect of employment, the UN went onto say: “By introducing family-friendly workplace policies and practices, companies and organizations will be in a better position to promote children’s safety and wellbeing and provide systematic support to employees.”

So what does this mean for employers? As we slowly emerge from lock down restrictions, employers are seeing increasing requests for hybrid working and flexible working to allow parents to spend less time commuting and more time at home with their children.  The pandemic allowed for a ‘mass testing’ of flexible working arrangements and many have found it worked well.  Having said this, it has always been important to balance the needs of working parents against the needs of the business and as the world slowly opens up again, the move towards more hybrid office and home working should allow for a balance to be achieved.  Additionally, focussing on other initiates such as job sharing, compressed working hours, term time working or even simple part time hours are all tools that could be used to further the UN’s objective of supporting parents to support children.

In the UK we are relatively fortunate to have statutory rights that allow employees to apply for flexible working; however, this is not the case across all countries within the UN’s global reach and that can be detrimental for children.  Unicef (the United Nations Children’s Fund), comment that: “with long working hours, many parents miss significant periods of time during the first years of their babies’ lives. They have no option. Family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and childcare, are not a reality for most new parents around the world”.  Whilst the right to apply for flexible working in the UK is engrained in law, there are perhaps more forward thinking initiatives that could also be considered by employers both in the UK and further afield.

In respect of ideas, Unicef  identify 10 ways businesses around the world can help create a more family-friendly workplace, which are as follows: 

“1.    Guarantee that women are not discriminated against based on pregnancy, motherhood or family responsibilities – for example, in relation to employment conditions, wages or career opportunities.

2.    Establish a minimum of six months paid parental leave to ensure parents can spend quality time with their children when they need it the most.

3.    Enable breastfeeding at work through paid breastfeeding breaks, adequate lactation facilities and a supportive breastfeeding environment in the workplace.

4.    Support access to affordable and quality childcare to ensure that children have access to early childhood education and can develop the skills they need to reach their full potential.

5.    Grant flexible working time arrangements through work from home policies and other measures.

6.    Beyond legal compliance, promote decent working conditions such as wages that reflect the cost of living for families.

7.    Address the specific challenges faced by migrant and seasonal workers, such as supporting workers to move with their families, and work with governments to support migrant families’ ability to access identification and other basic services.

8.    Encourage positive parenting practices with staff – for example, develop training and awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of early childhood development.

9.    Promote family-friendly policies with suppliers and other business partners.

10.   Raise awareness among consumers and clients of the importance of early childhood development, including through their own social media and other channels.”

On Global Parents Day, why not take 5 minutes to consider if there is anything further that your business could do to help further the UN’s objective of helping parents to support the development of children.

If you would like any further advice on family friendly working practices or adapting your business post pandemic, don’t hesitate to reach out to our expert employment law team for a free consultation or contact us at . For more information on flexible working requests download our free guide for employers.

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