Employers and work-life balance

BenchmarkingLatest researchJargon busterLegislationOpinionsNews ArchiveContact usUseful links

Jargon buster

Family-friendly policies

  • Career breaks – a break from employment with an organisation, usually following maternity leave. The contract of employment ceases but the individual and organisation remain in contact at agreed intervals. The individual has a set amount of time (say 1, 3 or 5 years) during which they can decide whether or not to return to work, although their job may not always be held open Career breaks are increasingly being opened up to all employees including non-parents to facilitate personal development.
  • Childcare vouchers – these vouchers, given, sold by employers to parents at a reduced cost or substituted for a part of salary, enable working parents to save money on childcare. As such, they are a good way of encouraging staff retention, particularly among women returning from maternity leave. The Government does not expect employers to pay National Insurance on the vouchers thus enabling them to pass the 10% saving on to their employees. Parents can buy each £10 voucher for £9 and can then spend the vouchers on any form of legal childcare, including childminders, nurseries, nannies, family relatives and out-of-school schemes for the over 5’s.
  • Emergency leave – employees have the right to take a reasonable period of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, such as a child, and not be dismissed or victimised for doing so. The DTI document Family emergency? Your right to time off (PL506) provides more details.
  • Family-friendly – any policy or practice deemed to help families spend more time together and/or enjoy a better quality of life.
  • Improved maternity provisions – provisions provided by the employer that are in excess of the statutory minimum. Examples include higher pay whilst on maternity leave or offering a ‘returnee’s bonus’.
  • On-site childcare facilities / On-site crèche – the employer has a nursery or crèche at the place of employment for staff with children. Such facilities reduce time travelling to and from work, since parents don’t have to drop off and pick up their children elsewhere, and employees can visit their children at lunchtimes. Crèches and nurseries save time and reduce anxiety in case of illness or emergencies.
  • Parental leave – leave that parents or adoptive parents (both men and women) can take by law to care for their child after its arrival or adoption. Employers must allow parents to take the statutory minimum length of unpaid leave, but some offer enhanced provisions, such as paid leave.
  • Term-time contracts – contractual working hours are established during school terms only and school holidays are not worked. Pay can be averaged out over 12 monthly instalments or paid only for time worked, i.e. the employee does not receive pay during school holidays. The contract of employment continues during school holidays.



Contact Us - [email protected] | © Work-Life balance part of The Work Foundation 2005