Working parents in the holidays

While children can’t wait for the start of the six-week summer school break, most working parents can’t wait for the end of it, due to the stress of arranging childcare. This is even more of a challenge for single parents without a support network to help out, and families where both parents work. From an employer’s perspective, this is not good for the employee, their colleagues or the business.

We have put together some easy to implement ideas that could help support both staff and businesses during the holidays and make sure that it’s not just the kids that enjoy the summer break.

Allow for either unpaid leave or time to be made up and show a consistent approach towards all working parents. Have an open discussion in order to decide upon the best approach. For example, if too much time needs to be made up you can consider the use of annual leave.

Another option is for contracts and hours of work to be more flexible – for example, the adoption of annualised hours means that instead of working a set number of hours per week, parents can work a set number of hours per year. This can work when the business experiences peaks and troughs, allowing more time off in the school holidays. Other options include working compressed hours (e.g. working full time hours over a shorter working week) or job sharing.

Offering childcare vouchers is a useful way of supporting working parents financially by allowing them to save on the costs of childcare through a salary sacrifice scheme. This can save each parent in the scheme up to £933 a year on childcare costs (£1,800 for both) and vouchers can offset the cost of summer school clubs. For the employer there is also a benefit as there are savings to be made on national insurance contributions of up to £402.36 per scheme user.

Working parents may wish to use a large amount of their annual leave during the summer. However you should be wary of your duty of care for the employee by ensuring that they have adequate rest periods throughout the whole year to prevent them from burning out, especially in an intense or pressured working environment.

Term time working may not work for all roles, but you should consider whether or not if could work in your organisation.

Both mums and dads have the right to take up to 13 week’s unpaid leave for any child that is born or adopted on or before 15th December 1999 and is under the age of 5 (or 18 for those with a disability), so this may be an option for some. Normally, leave is granted in block of 4 weeks per year. However, organisations would need to consider how this would affect day-to-day operations.

Some roles allow for remote working where parents can work from home for some of the time. This relies on a development of trust between both parties but can work well as it reduces cost and increases productivity.

Another solution is to create a temporary onsite crèche for particularly busy weeks in the summer. This means your staff can focus on the job at hand knowing their children are being looked after nearby, and they do not have to rush away early from work to do a pick up.

There are a range of alternative flexible working solutions available that employers can inform and advise working parents on. To increase morale and retain staff, it is often more beneficial and cost effective, to accommodate sensible requests. If they are declined too often employers then face the option of replacing and training new staff, which can be very expensive. You should invest now in the working parent and reap the rewards from a loyal and motivated workforce.