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Four family-friendly policies workplaces need, says UNICEF

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We know that family-friendly workplace policies have a far-reaching impact. From the employees who use them, to the organisations that implement them, and the families that they positively affect, when parents and carers feel supported in their workplace to be able to balance the pressures and needs of both their career and home life, then they are able to thrive in both areas of their lives. And this means families have the best opportunity to be happy, healthy and flourish.

UNICEF’s 2019 report, ‘Family-Friendly Policies: Redesigning the Workplace of the Future’, recognises this and draws on extensive research around families and workplaces to outline best-practice family-friendly policies.

“Better care for young children, enabled by supportive conditions at work, is not only in the interest of young children and families, it also yields benefits for businesses, across a number of indicators of workers’ productivity, earnings, gender equality, business growth, brand equity, talent recruitment and retention, and improved employee health, engagement and morale.” - UNICEF

UNICEF has recommended four specific family-friendly policies that workplaces around the world can implement to ensure they are supporting their working parents and carers, and in turn giving children the best possible start at life.

The four sets of policies are:

  1. Sufficient paid leave to all parents and guardians, in both the formal and informal economies, to meet the needs of their young children. This includes paid maternity, paternity, and parental leave, and leave to care for sick young children.
  2. Supporting the ability of mothers to breastfeed exclusively for six months, as recommended by global endorsed standards, and to continue breastfeeding for as long as they choose.
  3. Ensuring that all children have access to affordable, quality childcare and early education.
  4. Providing child benefits and adequate wages to help families provide for young children.

“These policies help to address the needs of parents and families for adequate time, resources, and services to care for their young children, while fulfilling their work obligations, staying in their jobs and improving/unlocking their skills and productivity.” – UNICEF

In addition, in recognising that employers can help parents to give their children the best start in life, as well as support their employees’ mental and physical wellbeing, UNICEF have also recommended 10 ways organisations can do this.

10 ways companies can be more family-friendly

  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.

Read the full UNICEF Family-Friendly Policies: Redesigning the Workplace of the Future 2019 Report here.

To learn more about what your organisation can do to become a family-friendly workplace, contact info@parentsatwork.com.au