Bank of Ireland offers evolving flexible arrangements for working carers

Bank of Ireland carers
Bank of Ireland Group CEO Myles O’Grady with colleague Chris Keeley and his daughter Ava

Financial and banking services organisation Bank of Ireland Group supports its working carers by offering a collaborative approach to flexible working based on individual needs.

The bank, which has more than 9,000 employees across the UK, Ireland, United States, Germany, France and Spain, prioritises work-life balance and offers flexible-working arrangements as part of this.

It allows employees across the group to work as part of a hybrid model and they can use a team charter tool to collaborate on decisions about where, when and how they work. If they want to permanently change their working hours or days, they can apply through a flexible-working policy and state what changes they want. A decision will be made following a consultation.

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In order to support its working carers, through its Family Matters programme, the organisation also offers seven weeks of paid shared parental leave in the first year for UK employees, 13 weeks of paid leave for partners when coupled with paternity leave enhancements, five days of paid foster care leave, 26 weeks of paid surrogacy leave and extended breastfeeding breaks for parents with a child up to two years of age. Every employee is eligible for these from their first day of employment at the bank.

All of the bank’s policies are group-wide, with the most generous option taking precedence in each country, whether that is the government standard or what the firm offers, explains Joanne Healy, head of group employee relations at Bank of Ireland.

“We allow a great deal of flexibility for all colleagues whether they are carers or not through an evolving and collaborative approach,” she says. “Our goal is to have a rich blend of work patterns and environments to maximise the benefit of flexible working, whether that is for individual colleagues or whole teams. Additionally, during Carers’ Week this year we celebrated by sharing experiences in order to break down the stigma around caring.”

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act and all it entails, such as allowing for better consultations and fewer restrictions, aligns with the bank’s flexible working approach, which is based on accommodating individual needs, whatever they may be.

The bank additionally has an internal family network that offers community support to working carers, has partnered with Parenting NI and Family Carers Ireland, and has a 24/7 employee assistance programme that provides parenting and eldercare support.

“We welcome the [act], it brings more focus on individual colleague needs and empowers them to seek out a better working environment and a better work-life balance for themselves,” Healy says. “We will be looking at our policy and will consult with colleagues fully on this. We think it’s a valuable piece of legislation that will encourage colleagues to take ownership of working patterns and ensure their work-life balance works for them.”