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26 November 2003

PARENTS AT WORK

Employers of the Year 2003 to be announced

Winners, varying from a small engineering company in the West Midlands and a London computer training company, through the Central Scotland Forest Trust, a Job Centre Plus and a borough council, to a large City financial services company, will all be named as Employers of the Year at a ceremony on 26 November.

The PARENTS AT WORK Employer of the Year Awards, are designed to reward innovation and creative thinking in work-life balance. The idea is to challenge current expectations and encourage pioneering approaches to improving working lives and building business success. The winners of the 2003 Awards are:

  • The BT Carers in Employment Award, in association with Carers UK – Telford and Wrekin Borough Council
  • The Ford Motor Company Driving Diversity Award – The Birmingham and Solihull Job Centre Plus
  • The Lloyds TSB Scotland Scottish Award – Central Scotland Forest Trust
  • The NSPCC Family Friendly Award (joint winners) – Happy Computers and Telford and Wrekin Borough Council
  • The PARENTS AT WORK Innovation Award (joint winners) – Citigroup and Farrelly Engineering & Facilities

PARENTS AT WORK Chief Executive Sarah Jackson said: "The sheer range of our winners, from all around the UK, shows that work-life balance policy and practice can bring business benefits to any kind of organisation. All the finalists have done extremely well to come through to the finals of a highly competitive competition. We look forward to celebrating their creativity and innovation at our Awards ceremony on November 26."

Notes to Editors:

  • The winners of the Employer of the Year Awards will be announced at a Gala Luncheon and Awards Ceremony in London on 26 November at 2.45pm. The Awards will be presented by Gerry Sutcliffe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Competition and Consumers, Department of Trade and Industry. The media are welcome to attend the morning presentations about the Awards and the drinks reception that follows and/or the Under Secretary of State’s address and the announcement of the winners. Please contact Maggy Meade-King at PARENTS AT WORK on 020 8341 0708 if you would like to attend.
  • Pictures of the Awards ceremony will be available for the media to access and download from Visual Media Online at www.vismedia.co.uk or by calling Visual Media on 020 7436 9595 from 5.00pm onwards on Wednesday 26 November. Alternatively, please call Maggy Meade-King. A group shot of the winners will also be emailed to picture editors at national and regional titles on 26 Nov.
  • PARENTS AT WORK is a campaigning charity which provides information and support to working parents; and which helps employers to reap the business benefits of work-life balance practice. We have now merged with our sister organisation New Ways to Work to form Working Families. For further information, check out our website at http://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/asp/home_zone/m_welcome.asp

The winners:

Work-life balance at the Central Scotland Forest Trust extends to a policy allowing employees to bring their dogs to work and a futon where employees can rest. A period of major change has recently led to a new working culture at the Trust and work-life balance is now firmly embedded throughout the organisation. Everyone – from the management team to the cleaning team – uses the highly flexible working patterns.

Financial services company Citigroup say their clients benefit from their high performing, motivated employees, who recognise that Citigroup does everything it can – in a high pressure working environment – to support their personal and professional work-life balance. Citigroup’s Symmetry suite of work-life balance options include emergency back-up childcare, flexible working, multi-faith rooms and four CitiDifference diversity networks.

No one is allowed to start work before 8.30am or work later than 5pm at Farrelly Facilities & Engineering Ltd, based in Sutton Coldfield. Employees are not allowed to take work home with them either. These rules are just part of Farrelly’s extensive work-life balance policies which they say have drastically reduced staff turnover and contributed to sales figures which more than doubled last year. They make a clear link with customer service: "employees who are treated well, will treat customers well," says Gerry Farrelly.

London computer training company Happy Computers pride themselves on never having turned down a flexible working request. One employee has all the school holidays off, another – a father – works a seven day fortnight so he can share childcare with his wife. Even the MD works a compressed hours four day week. If childcare arrangements go pear-shaped, children are welcome to come into the office.

Jobcentre Plus in Birmingham and Solihull has found that its ‘Diversity with Purpose’ strategy, which includes a comprehensive range of work-life balance policies, has helped it to attract and recruit a diverse workforce which is more representative of its customers, as well enabling new opening hours. Their policies include part-time and term time only working, special leave to cover domestic emergencies, a childcare co-ordinator, paternity and maternity leave allowances, career breaks, advisers working with particular communities and prayer rooms for employees. Their Work-Life Balance Toolkit is now being rolled out around the Department for Work and Pensions.

At the Borough of Telford & Wrekin the workforce has become mainly part-time since flexible working was introduced. This has led to increased service provision and 3% staff turnover, as well as increased flexibility for carers and parents alike. As well as a range of flexible working options, the Borough provides information to staff on childcare and schools, holiday clubs for older children and prides itself on its supportive culture for carers. Breakfast meetings are banned!

For more information contact:
Maggy Meade-King at PARENTS AT WORK on 0208 341 0708 (or 07712 674428 on Nov 26) or Jonathan Swan on 0207 253 5358 or email: [email protected]

Carers in Employment Award: Gerard Bithell at BT on 020 7356 5370 or Madeleine Starr at Carers UK on 07769 703374.

Driving Diversity Award: Tom Malcolm at the Ford Motor Company on 01277 252957

Family Friendly Award: Cath Drake at the NSPCC on 020 7825 2530

Scottish Employer of the Year Award: Glen McGill at Lloyds TSB Scotland on 0131 260 0477

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