Why your company needs policies that handle work life balance
Posted on 14th December 2021 at 10:09
Policies such as Homeworking, Flexible working, and Maternity and family friendly policies can help your employees achieve a balance between work and home life while helping managers to organise work around your business needs.
You may prefer to offer only what you are legally required to or choose to enhance your provisions. Either way it is helpful to have clear, consistent policies in place to inform employees of their allowances, and to help managers deal with requests.
Here's how having clear policies relating to work-life balance will benefit your business:
Improve employee perception
Even if you think you offer a positive workplace culture, your employees may not have the same perception.
Over a third of working parents (38%) said that the people who work the longest hours are the most respected by senior leaders in their organisation and 44% said that the senior leaders in their organisation are not good role models for achieving a good work-life balance. One third (34%) of professionals think their company fails to deliver equal opportunity for women .
Implementing clear policies will help employees understand the support available to them. In time, applying your policies should also help get a more diverse makeup, especially at senior levels.
Attract and retain talented staff
There are 13 million working parents – a huge pool of talent that you risk missing out on without clear policies to demonstrate your work culture. Work-life balance will influence the next choice of job for 85% of working parents . An organisation’s policy on parental leave is an important factor for 92% when considering applying for a role there while 69% of parents polled were more likely to apply for jobs that were advertised as flexible. Being able to demonstrate to candidates that you prioritise the work-life balance of your team will help you to attract quality candidates when you’re next recruiting.
Family friendly policies will also help your staff to reach their full potential. Currently 41% of working mothers say being a parent is holding them back from promotion at work , rising to 50% for those with additional caring responsibilities for a sick, elderly or disabled family member. Supporting these employees to progress will improve diversity at more senior levels and reduce turnover of staff who may otherwise look for a job elsewhere.
But it isn’t just parents – 72% of those aged 55 and over would like to work flexibly . While for some this is due to family commitments, for others it is because of health or simply to have more time to enjoy life outside of work. This is an important group to consider as over-50s make up nearly one third of the workforce and bring a great deal of experience.
Reduce the risk of discrimination claims
Tribunal cases relating to flexible working have risen to a record high, with a 52% increase in 2021.
While 41% of working mothers felt being a parent holds them back at work, only 30% of working fathers felt the same. If your policies impact disproportionately on women, you could face claims for sex discrimination. It is accepted by the tribunal that women are generally more disadvantaged by childcare responsibilities than men , and so policies that impact disproportionately on employees with childcare responsibility can lead to sex discrimination claims.
One company was ordered to pay £185,000 damages to a mother who was refused flexible hours for childcare. Here the company’s mistake was to dismiss the request without any attempt to consider options or alternatives that would work for both parties. A good policy sets out a process to ensure all requests are given fair consideration, while balancing your legal obligations with your business interests.
However, you must ensure that the process does not discriminate based on protected characteristics. For example, if your process favours working mothers at the cost of fathers or older workers, you could face claims for age or sex discrimination. Currently, 35% of workers over 50 felt their employer was more likely to grant flexible working to parents with young children.
For some disabled people, flexible or home working can be a reasonable adjustment. You are required to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled staff where possible under the Equality Act 2010, and so refusing the request without a good reason could lead to a disability discrimination claim. A clear policy will help decision-makers to fully understand the process and how it applies when the request is for a reasonable adjustment.
Avoid regulatory issues
When staff work remotely, your legal obligations (such health and safety and data protection) remain. However, only 70% of HR respondents in the UK said they are ‘very confident’ they know where their staff are working from . A clear policy will set out what is required from employees to help you meet obligations such as ensuring data protection processes and completing risk assessments.
How we can help
We can help you produce an employee handbook that is specific to your needs, easy to read and easy to understand. Our staff handbook includes a Homeworking policy, a Flexible Working Policy and a Maternity and Family Friendly policy, which will all help with the issues discussed above.
Our easy-to-read handbooks include a consultation with an employment solicitor to tailor the policies to your business.
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