Bank of America Merrill Lynch supports working parents over school holidays

Bank-of-America Merrill Lynch

Bank of America Merrill Lynch offers its 6,500 UK employees a range of family-friendly benefits to support working parents with ad-hoc childcare arrangements during the long summer holidays.

Around 35% of the bank’s workforce has some form of child or adult care responsibility. Adam Brooke, vice president, benefits consultant, UK and Ireland at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, says: “If you look at our demographic, it’s a very diverse organisation. We have to now be more flexible with the way we offer benefits, especially around the support that we offer employees, because the care responsibilities are there. This is becoming even more of a hot topic.”

In 2012, the bank introduced a back-up care benefit with provider My Family Care, offering 20 days of back-up childcare and 20 days of back-up adult care a year, both employer-funded. A total of 15 days of the childcare quota can be used during the six-week summer break. 

In addition, parents can use a childcare voucher scheme delivered with Care-4, which pays for registered childcare and for after-school clubs and play schemes, including summer holiday clubs. The bank also promotes the government’s tax-free childcare scheme, which launched last year, providing eligible parents with up to £2,000 a year per child towards childcare costs.

As of June 2018, 43% of the bank’s employees have registered to use the back-up care benefit, including 12% who have adult care responsibilities. A total of 108 employees have so far booked UK summer clubs for 2018, and Brooke predicts the number will rise.

Alongside the organisation’s formal flexible working policy, employees are encouraged to informally speak to their managers about adjusting their working hours to suit childcare needs over the summer holidays. Brooke adds: “[We] just say to employees [they are] best placed to manage [their] time and to make this work for [them], these are the things we’re doing to try and support.”

Parents are also encouraged to take advantage of the bank’s voluntary benefits offering, provided by Xexec, which provides discounts on days out, theme park trips and holiday clubs.

The bank’s family-friendly benefits are communicated via the HR Connect section of the staff intranet. In addition, the organisation’s family and carers’ network is used to filter communications to working parents, as are monthly emails.