Family-friendly employee benefits used to be a well-received perk. However, they are now becoming a must-have for working parents who are deciding whether to stay at their current workplace or seek a new role with another employer.
Family-friendly policies and benefits help parents to more effectively manage their professional and home responsibilities, especially with the ever-increasing cost of living. In turn, these policies and benefits increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace, improve retention and allow businesses to attract top talent. In fact, nearly 60% of businesses say that family-friendly benefits are a key component of their recruitment strategy.
In this article, we will explain what family-friendly benefits and policies are, how they can benefit both you and your employees, and offer up some examples of family-friendly benefits that you should consider implementing.
What are family-friendly benefits and policies?
Family-friendly benefits and policies encompass the voluntary non-monetary compensation that employers can provide employees. Common employee benefits include health insurance, subsidised lunches, and dental care. Family-friendly benefits, however, are those that are specifically tailored to make it easier for employees to balance their work and their family life, whether this is financially, practically, or emotionally.
Effective family-friendly policies and benefits should offer assistance to employees through all life stages from family planning to elder care. This is because family doesn’t just cover children, it also includes spouses, domestic partners, parents and even pets.
What statutory policies are there?
Family-friendly benefits are those that go above and beyond what businesses are legally obligated to provide. However, having sound knowledge of statutory policies can help you when it comes to creating family-friendly policies that complement existing requirements.
Maternity, paternity, and shared parental leave and pay
Employees may be eligible for statutory maternity, paternity or shared parental leave, so long as they meet certain criteria.
The amount of leave that an employee can take and how much pay they will receive is depending on several factors, outlined on the Gov.uk website.
Adoption leave and pay
Adoption leave and pay cover employees who become parents via adoption or surrogacy. Only one parent can take adoption leave but the amount of time and pay is the same as maternity leave.
Unpaid parental leave
All eligible employees can take unpaid parental leave. The entitlement for parents is 18 weeks of leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday. However, there is a limit on how much parental leave each parent can take in any given year.
69% of working parents feel they’ve been able to be more involved in their children’s lives because of more flexible work schedules. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working arrangements so long as they have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks.
As an employer, you must deal with any applications for flexible working in a ‘reasonable manner’. Failure to do so can lead to you facing an employment tribunal.
What are the benefits of being family-friendly?
It’s not an exaggeration to say that family-friendly benefits are advantageous to all involved. At a broad level, being a family-friendly workplace:
- Supports employees to advance their careers
- Promotes a good work-life balance
- Prioritises physical and mental wellbeing
- Places value on diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Boosts morale and productivity
However, they do so much more than this if you look at it a little closer:
For children: Family-friendly policies promote healthier, better-educated children. They also mean that children get to spend more time with their parent(s) or guardian(s).
For women: Women are disproportionately affected by the cost of childcare, with 43% of working mothers considering leaving their job and 40% looking at reducing their working hours. Family-friendly benefits enable women to thrive in their careers and as parents without having to compromise either.
For LGBTQ individuals: 36% of LGBTQ individuals have reported challenges to family building, with one-fifth of these citing the high cost of fertility treatment as the biggest barrier. Family-friendly benefits can support the inclusion of LGBTQ employees by giving them access to treatment and other family-building resources.
For the sandwich generation: For those people who have children but also have ageing or ill parents, juggling all their commitments can be incredibly difficult and lead to burnout. Family-friendly benefits help them to manage their responsibilities, reduce stress and give them back more time for themselves.
For businesses: Family-friendly benefits improve employee retention, reduce recruitment costs, lower rates of absenteeism, elevate organisations’ reputations, increase employee productivity, make companies more competitive and move employers closer to achieving global sustainability standards.
For the economy: Family-friendly policies promote economic growth and national GDP.
Family-friendly employee benefits and policies
So, you know what family-friendly benefits and policies are, and why it’s valuable to implement them. But which family-friendly benefits should you provide your employees? The key considerations when looking to add any employee benefit to your offering should be that the employee benefits match the demographics and needs of your staff, that they will be of value to your employee and you’re your employees know how to access them.
One of the best ways to find out which family-friendly employee benefits will help your employees most is to ask them. However, the following benefits are becoming increasingly common and are worth considering:
Extended healthcare provisions
Many companies offer private medical insurance for their employees, but you can make this benefit more family-friendly by extending it to their partners, children, and parents.
Private medical insurance can cover appointments, diagnostics and testing, treatment, dental care, eye care and more. For employers, it is beneficial as it can improve employee health and reduce time off. For employees and their families, however, it can give an all-important peace of mind that they can access high-quality care in a timely manner. This is particularly poignant
Often, childcare is one of the most significant expenses for a family, with nursery for under-twos costing parents in England 65% of an individual wage. Supporting or providing childcare for employees can significantly reduce the financial burden of this. You can do this in a multitude of ways including a workplace creche, childcare voucher and/or subsidies and providing access to on-demand support.
Lactation and sleep support
24% of parents are exclusively breastfeeding once their child reaches 6 weeks of age and 1% of parents are still exclusively breastfeeding after six months. Therefore, ensuring that breastfeeding parents have a safe, private, and comfortable area to express or pump at work is an important family-friendly practice to have in place. In addition, offering appointments with lactation specialists can help parents feel fully informed and make the best choice for themselves and their child(ren).
Many parents also suffer from sleep deprivation and encounter challenges in trying to establish a sleep routine with a new child. Giving them access to sleep support specialists can help them during this transition period and ensure their well-being is also a priority.
Whilst these might not seem like a direct family-friendly employee benefit, retail discounts can help families in a range of ways. Not only can they help employees save money on everyday essentials like groceries but in turn, this can help them redirect these savings to other aspects of their life.
Fertility and family-building benefits
15% of the population experiences infertility yet not every person is eligible for NHS treatment. Private fertility treatment can be incredibly expensive, making it inaccessible for many people. Offering fertility benefits can give employees the chance to start a family. Including other methods of family building such as adoption and surrogacy, is imperative for inclusion and you should support these family-friendly employee benefits with a comprehensive fertility leave policy.
At Apryl, we can support you in implementing family-friendly employee benefits in the form of fertility benefits. We connect businesses and thus, their employees, with leading fertility experts, clinics, and treatments. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you empower your employees and become a role model for progressive companies, get in touch and support fertility in the workplace today.