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  • Holly Rivans

Empowering Working Parents: Strategies for Supporting their Caregiving Responsibilities

Working while having a dependant can be a real juggle mentally, physically, and emotionally, but there are ways that workplaces can make this less stressful for all involved. In this blog we list three key ways to support parents in the workplace...


Communication is key.

Strong communication between managers and the parent/carer can take some of the burden off all parties. For employees to feel as though they can come forward with issues or struggles it is important to ensure the workplace has a psychologically safe culture, this will help the employer to better understand the individuals’ responsibilities outside of work and provide the opportunity to have regular proactive check ins around this. This can be done informally over a coffee, in 1-1s, focus groups and general conversations at work. Making this the norm, you will often find that others may be in similar situations and will be able to empathise or be able to offer support. This will help to reduce the stigma and normalise these conversations creating a more open and psychologically safe culture around caring responsibility. You may well find that the manager has been in this situation before or is currently experiencing something similar and will empathise.


Communication surrounding the individuals needs can be encouraged by highlighting the provisions available, which ensures that employees are aware of the support, policies, and infrastructure the company provides, which in turn saves the employee in having to start the conversation. This could be done by an email to all, information on the company website, employee starter pack, posters, or social media – it is something to be proud of and should be easy to access, it will only be seen as a positive!


Flexible working is the way forward.

The 9-5 Monday to Friday working pattern is a very outdated expectation and certainly isn’t one size fits all.


Change is coming! The government have announced that new flexible working regulations will come into effect on the 6th April 2024 (People Management,CIPD), this will give employees the right to request flexible working arrangements from day one of employment and they will be able to make 2 statutory requests for flexible working per calendar year. Employers will be required to consult with staff and give justification for any rejections. This is designed to make people work in a way that better fits modern lifestyles, this will hugely benefit parents and carers. Requests can include things such as working patterns, location, compressed hours, start and finish time adjustments making it more inclusive. Meaning parents and carers can request a work life balance that fits around school runs, appointments, holidays and the dreaded but inevitable nursery bugs!



Supporting working parents


Share the load.

The Shared Parental Leave Evaluation Report 2023, 2023 by the Department for Business and Trade’ states that: ‘Women change their work patterns to accommodate parenting responsibilities to a greater degree than fathers.’  This statement sparks lots of conversation and debate.  Is this the mother’s choice to spend more time with their children, societal pressures or do they simply have no choice?


The caring responsibility shouldn’t be defined or decided by financial constraints, but often it is the case.  The cost of childcare is often the biggest barrier for parents returning to work. With new funding coming into place in 2024, this should offer people more of a choice in terms of juggling childcare and work.  But it does beg the question, if the gender pay gap wasn’t so significant would more families take shared parental leave and then shared part time or flexible working?


Childcare responsibilities should be a choice between the parents and not involve the added pressures and expectations of which society holds. In the workplace or even at the interview stage, it shouldn’t be assumed that the woman will have more time off than a man due to mothering responsibilities. A father has equal responsibility and duty to their child as a mother and therefore should have the flexibility to support his family with a flexible working schedule. This isn’t always the case and often it is assumed that it is primarily the mother’s duty, however this isn’t always the best option for some families, or it isn’t an option at all.         


Parents and carers want to feel heard and understood at work. This is achievable by ensuring strong communication with an open and flexible working environment, where the chance to share responsibilities is more achievable and will relieve a lot of the stress/burden from parents and carers, as a result they will feel more valued in the workplace, have loyalty to the organisation and increased productivity.


It is time to start communicating and listening!

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