Article | Fabulous Women

Businesses providing Parental Support Facilities for Women

Posted on 13/11/2012

Government tinkering will only put more burdens on small and medium businesses (SMEs) and not affect the real issue of how to support families through their parental responsibilities. Soon, fathers will be able to take time off work and claim state benefits throughout the majority of the first year of their babys life if the mother returns to employment. However, the introduction of the joint allowance will now be delayed until October 2015, following a Cabinet disagreement over the impact of the scheme on hard-pressed businesses.


Women leave formal education having attained a higher level of qualifications, however, the system in place is unfairly staked against women that bear children:

         Poor availability and high cost of childcare facilities.

         Employers suffer the impact and cost of maternity leave and the cost of continued parental responsibilities.

         Employees fear the loss of their authority and promotional opportunities due to the added family responsibilities and the lack of flexible affordable support facilities.

So often I hear of women force to give up on their career prospects following the birth of their children due to of the lack of affordable support facilities. Whether the partner is able to take a month off in the first year of their babys life is not going to resolve the burden on SMEs or the lack of flexible opportunities available to women returners.

The new Flexible Parental Leave is only an added complication, on a poor idea that has some value but will have minimal effect (few men will be encouraged to take it up) which will be onerous in its execution, hence the delayed introduction.

Larger businesses have HR and finance departments and are able to absorb these bureaucratic changes.  Smaller businesses are the back-bone of industry, employing over 90% of the workforce, they should not have to suffer another ineffective policy; SMEs should be treated differently.

SMEs should be incentivised to support parents with childcare vouchers so not only will the employee receive a tax break but the employers will receive a tax reduction perhaps in employers NI contribution.  Larger employers should be supported to provide on-site childcare facilities or combine their facilities with other local businesses.

Of course I accept that some parents choose to remain at home with their children, but this decision should be not forced upon them because childcare support is too difficult and too expensive. 

More support is needed to encourage larger employers to provide childcare facilities for their employees and incentives to help SMEs support their employees. Women have a massive role to play not only in the family but in the workplace.  We cannot afford to lose the valuable skills that women have to offer just because the government is too lazy to address the real issues that prevent women from play their part due to parental responsibilities.

What is your view? Will the Flexible Parental Leave be of benefit? Do you have a better suggestion?

Back Author : Janice B Gordon

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