Parents around New Zealand may be breathing a sigh of relief as the last of our schools go back this week.
Juggling work and family commitments during the summer break, which is longer than leave entitlements for most, can be a tough task, as our Diversity Manager Claire Stuart, a working parent, will attest.
Diversity Works New Zealand is committed to flexible working and Claire was able to work from home two days per week for the last four weeks of the holidays, allowing her to spend extra time with Micah, seven, and Zoe, six.
With just 10 weeks to go until the next school holidays, many parents will already be thinking about childcare arrangements for April. The break coincides with Easter so some may be planning to take leave to be with their family. But there are plenty of other ways employers can support their people, so school holidays don’t become a source of stress, Claire says.
Here are some of her tips:
- Put strategies in place to allow staff to work from home. These can include restricting meetings to one or two days a week, ensuring IT facilities allow for remote access and setting expectations around communicating staff availability even when they are not physically in the office. Read more about Lion’s experience in introducing these policies.
- Consider allowing ‘flexi-time’ – people could start early and finish in the middle of the day or start in the middle of the day and finish in the evening to allow them to share childcare with a partner.
- Consider ‘term-time’ working arrangements which allow parents to take unpaid leave during school holidays but have their salary spread evenly across the year. Engineering company Aecom offer this as part of its FlexWorks programme.
- Look at whether your organisation can assist with childcare. Some offices allow older children to be present for part of the day, (Xero is a one example) although this may not be safe in other work environments. Wairarapa investment services firm Rival Wealth introduced a group childcare programme where two people look after other staff members’ children during the holidays. The organisation also funds activities such as a trip to the local pool. Read more.
It’s important to remember that flexible working policies should be accessible by all employees, not just working parents, Claire says. Find out more about setting up flexible working on our website.