Mary Peterson: Should employers be doing more to support working parents?

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Last November’s news that Credit Suisse in the US is enabling working mothers to take babies on business trips by paying for their nannies is a significant raising of the bar in terms of support for parents in the workplace. Whether or not this catches on in the UK, it reignites the debate over whether employers are doing enough to support working parents.

A significant proportion of our employees have caring responsibilities and, as such, we believe there is a strong case for helping them to more easily manage their work and personal commitments. In turn, this leads to greater engagement and retention, particularly of women.

Legislation has done much; now men are in the equation with the option of taking shared parental leave (SPL). The future introduction of shared grandparental leave is a further interesting development.

At Addleshaw Goddard, we provide a truly flexible SPL package in that leave (with enhanced pay equating to 20 weeks’  salary) may be taken at any point in the first year of the baby’s life. We have a lawyer taking leave at the moment and are publicising that to encourage more take-up.

Around 70% of our employees report working flexibly in one way or another. It means something different to every individual and we support a wide range of arrangements from term-time working to reduced hours and longer holiday arrangements.

We also have a range of initiatives focused on working parents, including regular new parent lunches, a maternity buddy scheme and webinars and seminars on issues relating to parenthood. We are also members of Parental Choice, an organisation that helps our employees access advice around childcare, as well as assistance in sourcing childcare.

We are always interested in what more we can offer, in a bid to both attract and retain the best talent.

Mary Peterson is head of talent and learning at Addleshaw Goddard