Family Friendly Policies in the Community & Voluntary Sector

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2019 Community Conference and Seminar
6 November 2018

In the Community & Voluntary Sector which includes care provision, charities, not for profit organisations and housing associations, employers must ensure provision of family-friendly policies are in place when trying to recruit and maintain staff levels of experienced and valued staff.

The UK’s long hours working culture damages family life and parents are voting with their feet.

Flexible working, on its own, is only giving parents the ability to keep going, without improving their quality of life.

For employers, tackling unsupportive workplace cultures is a crucial to success of family-friendly working initiatives.

Within organisations in the Community & Voluntary Sector, staff satisfaction and timely engagement means that care and support staff will maintain loyalty and ensure that their participation in improving workplace conditions and support continues. The end product in utopia would be a contented and settled staff team. Satisfaction amongst the employees is made up of a number of points that can make staff contented such as:

Work-Life Balance


Parental responsibilities

Care Provision

Managing work and private life

Modern family life has now changed, gone are the days when there was only one breadwinner in the family, today family life has changed greatly from yesteryear. The makeup of families at this time has totally changed; there are a number of different concepts now including:

Single Parents

Same Sex Couples

Unmarried Couples

Parents that are living apart

Step Parents

Add to this the ever increasing ageing population where individuals are working longer due to changes in pension arrangements and the increased reliance on grandparents to assist with the home structure of family life. Family friendly policies within the organisations are found to be falling short of the needs of today’s families, there are other factors that also cause issues within the organisations that are closely connected with family friendly requirements, such as shared parental pay arrangements, maternity pay and maternity leave, there is also the question of staff that due to health and medical issues have the need to look at IVF and surrogacy, these generally are not always included in the framework of the policies.

Consider grandparental leave for example. The government aired this in 2015, and referred to data that more than half of mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they first go back to work after maternity leave. This suggested that nearly two million grandparents had given up work, reduced their hours or taken time off work to help with childcare. These numbers suggest that many employees who are grandparents might look at the policy that gives some flexibility in this area as hugely appealing. Offering grandparental leave is also a way an employer can show that its promise to work-life balance is valid and not just insincerity.

An employer who widely advertises family friendly policies must ensure that they cater for the wide spectrum of diversity and inclusion that is evident in today’s modern families. Some employers in the Community & Voluntary Sector go a little further and have transitional arrangements on the return to work; giving fathers the same rights as mothers and employers offering family-friendly benefits which may be more generous than other organisations in the same catchment area.

But there is nothing to stop a thoughtful and good employer putting solutions in place for its own organisation, which could pay dividends with its workforce.

We call on the Community Service Group Executive to:

1. Invite members working in the Community & Voluntary Sector and Housing Associations to look at their Family Friendly policies and submit inconsistencies to UNISON to create a spreadsheet of organisations not providing the best support for staff with families.

2. Develop a factsheet for members working in the Community & Voluntary Sector and Housing Associations that will provide advice and ways of improvement in workplace family friendly policies.

3. Establish a dialogue with organisations in the Community & Voluntary Sector and Housing Associations to share best practice in promoting the benefits of Family Friendly policies to organisations in order to benefit all support staff.