Parental leave and time off for dependants

Promoting family-friendly working


Promoting a family friendly working environment can lead to a number of business benefits including:

  • increased productivity
  • reduced absenteeism
  • attracting new staff
  • retention of current staff

See Employers For Childcare's guidance on being a family friendly employer.

Communicating family friendly policies

It's a good idea to set out in writing, eg in a staff handbook, the:

  • statutory family-friendly rights to which employees are entitled
  • enhancements to those rights, if any, that exist, and whether they are contractual or discretionary - you should exercise caution in using discretion to avoid complaints of discrimination
  • procedures they need to follow if they wish to take up these rights

See Invest Northern Ireland Employers' Handbook and HR documents and templates.

These rights should - at the very least - include rights in relation to:

Allowing flexibility in your procedures

You should try to build some flexibility into your procedures to allow your employees the time they need to deal with their childcare responsibilities.

The charity Working Families has more help and advice on helping employees achieve a work-life balance: advice for employers on good working practices.

Providing childcare provision

You may want to consider offering employees some form of childcare provision. This sort of employee benefit can improve:

  • staff morale
  • recruitment and retention
  • the availability of employees

You can help with childcare in a number of ways, eg by:

  • Making staff aware of tax-free childcare where parents can get up to £500 every three months (£2,000 a year) for each child to help with the costs of childcare. Parents of a child with a disability can get up to £1,000 every three months (£4,000 a year).
  • Providing on-site childcare, ie a workplace nursery.
  • Offering childcare allowances - cash payments to allow employees to buy childcare services through a nursery or childminder.

Expenses and benefits: childcare - guidance from HM Revenue & Customs.