The Parenting Perspective: Can Employers Do More?

work life graphicMaternity leave can fly by, and before you know it you’re thrown back into the daily grind. When it comes to planning your return to work, there is both the emotional and psychological adjustment to consider. For some this can be a comfortable experience, heading back to a familiar environment, and for others it can be all the more difficult. In these situations it is advisable that you prepare for and plan a back-to-work schedule. Agreeing, in advance, on a suitable return to work transition period is not only beneficial for you, but for your boss and colleagues as well.

The big question that surrounds many companies is can they do more? Whilst parental leave is lawfully available, is there more an employer can do to accommodate a mother and father returning to work after the birth of their child? For some new parents, they may be stuck in inflexible jobs worried how they will balance work with a new family. For those keen to return to work in order to earn a crust, the hours can be a struggle to begin with therefore you may prefer to work differently from when you left. It won’t be an instantaneous decision, but as we previously mentioned, thinking about your working hours in advance can make the transition easier.

A report by Goodman Business Parks revealed that 74% of those surveyed confirmed that their employer does not offer a work from home scheme, although just over half of those surveyed believed their productivity would increase if they could work from home one of more days per week.

Flexible working hours is something of a contentious issue for both staff and businesses, as there’s a great deal of ambiguity surrounding it. However, with many new mothers keen to return to work but hesitant to commit to the 9-5 working week, there is the option of flexible working. The process of requesting flexible working is little-known, but you do have the rights to file a request with your employer if you so wish.

Adapting a working pattern that suits your needs is achievable, so the process for requesting work should begin before you return. A decision can take up to 14 weeks to be met, however with employers having a statutory duty to consider this request it’s definitely worth while submitting. Many of you might be wondering if you are entitled to flexible working hours or not. If you have been employed with the same company for 26 weeks or more, and are a parent of a child under 17 then the answer is yes. So, if you’re keen to switch your working pattern to something more suitable to you and your family then why not submit a request?

Remember you have the right to request flexible working, just not the right to have it. Employers will, of course, need to consider an application to decide if there is legitimate business ground to accept or not. In some instances, it might not be in the best interests of the business, but the employer does have the responsibility to seriously consider the request. The survey also revealed that 69% believe that they are more productive as a result of their shorter commute. When you consider the length of commute for some employees, along with the number of hours in a working day and being a new parent, there is a case for those wishing to work flexi time or, indeed, from home. Those wishing to adopt flexible working can wrongly be considered as working under their contracted hours; however that is not the case. This form of working allows the employee time needed for other commitments whilst still delivering what’s required of them. A business should consider the value of flexi time on a grander scale. It’s a pattern that can work in favour of both parties, and after all, aren’t all businesses keen to achieve top employee productivity? 

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