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In focus: Parent Initiatives and Returnships

Category: Working Parents

April 2019: Working Parents Month

This month we’re discussing the issues faced by working parents. Our rundowns in April are designed to support families, employers and HR professionals to join the dots on great work-life balance.

And getting the balance right is vital. There are 1.9m women who are economically inactive for caring reasons, the Government says. Many of these look for vacancies that make the most of their previous professional/managerial experience. Around three quarters of these women would like to return to work at some point; however significant barriers, both personal and structural, stand in their way. Let’s look at the rules and opportunities.

Employment rights for parents

There are a variety of leave options available to new parents and those with young children. That includes:

  • Adoption leave and pay are available to both families and individuals that adopt a child.
  • Maternity leave/pay and paid time off for antenatal appointments.
  • Unpaid parental leave which may be taken at any time up to the child’s fifth birthday (or until five years after placement in the case of adoption). If you have a disabled child then the eligible period is longer, up to the child’s 18th birthday.

Flexible working

Parents of children under the age of six or disabled children under the age of 18 also have the right to ask their employer for flexible working arrangements. The request can cover hours of work, times of work and place of work and may include requests for different patterns of work, including:

  • flexi-time
  • home working
  • term-time working
  • shift working
  • self-rostering
  • annualised hours.

The request must be made in writing and the employer has a statutory duty to consider the request seriously and to refuse it only if there are clear business grounds for doing so. Search now for vacancies with inclusive and supportive employers.

Help with childcare costs

Parents have welcomed the drive for flexible working but that alone is not enough to make a busy family schedule work. Childcare is a huge issue for many parents. Under the Tax-Free Childcare government scheme, you can get up to £500 every 3 months (£2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. If you get this help, the government will pay £2 for every £8 you pay your childcare provider. This is paid through an online childcare account which parents set up and manage. Other schemes may be able to provide 30 hours a week of free childcare where both parents are working.

Types of opportunities

Having children changes your life in so many different ways. But it doesn’t have to change your working situation. Parents returning to work are protected by rules on what their work looks like after time away.

  • If you’re returning to your old job, then your rights depend on how long you were away for. The law divides maternity leave into two sections. The first 26 weeks are called Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) and the second 26 weeks are called Additional Maternity Leave (AML). After returning to work from OML, you are entitled to return to the job you were doing before going on maternity leave. After returning to work from AML, you are entitled to return to the same job, but if this is no longer reasonably practicable, you have the right to return to a different job that is suitable and appropriate for you.
  • If you’re looking for a new job, then returner programmes are one way to help people get back into the workforce. These are targeted at those returning to work after a long break (typically two years or more). For a returnship, most companies prefer to structure the placement period as a ‘temporary’ position, rolling over to a permanent role if successful.

How to adjust to returning to work

We’ll also be talking this month about how to physically and emotionally manage the return to work. Great employers engage with flexible working and sympathetic management, but a new routine can still take its toll. Breastfeeding mothers may need to discuss arrangements for pumping or expressing. Or shortened hours with flexible working. Here’s our guide to making it as easy as possible (link to going back to work article).

Best jobs for parents

HR professionals should be 'loud and proud' about their family-friendly policies. Flexible working practices and family-friendly policies can play a key role in enabling companies and organisations to attract and retain the best female talent. They can also help to build a positive brand image which appeals to mothers and carers. Search our database now for vacancies with companies that promote family-friendly policies. Companies that think about you.




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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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