They want you to spend more time with your family

Roger Trapp looks at moves designed to encourage flexible working hours

Amid the furore surrounding Nicola Horlick's departure from City investment house Morgan Grenfell, much attention has focused on the ability of people like her to juggle senior positions with family life.

Although many question why this issue is not generally considered relevant to men, it is widely accepted that the increasing number of successful women will put pressure on employers to become more amenable to employees' needs. And two recent initiatives look likely to push the issue further up the agenda.

Kids' Club Network, the national organisation promoting safe childcare outside school hours, launched a new scheme last week designed to bring home its message to companies.

"Kids' Clubs Mean Business" - launched by the network's vice-president Cherie Booth QC (Tony Blair's wife) - includes a newsletter for personnel managers that will keep them up to date on childcare, briefings of particular interest to employers and information on childcare available in particular areas.

The network is pressing ministers to provide funding of pounds 50m a year for the next five years on the grounds that while the present government scheme has helped increase provision, there are still only enough places for about two children out of every 100.

It points to research showing that the existing scheme has contributed to a rise of nearly a tenth in the proportion of parents in paid employment, an increase in the number of hours worked and also rises in the wages received by parents.

Partnerships of the type envisaged by the network "make for a more reliable, better-skilled workforce, strengthen local communities and reduce crime among the young," said Ms Booth.

Meanwhile, a US organisation that encourages "family-friendly" policies at work is establishing itself in Britain to help business deal with the rise of women in the workforce.

The formidable team heading the fledgling UK operation of Work/Family Directions (WFD) - former Opportunity 2000 director Liz Bargh, Parents at Work founder member Lucy Daniels and former Equal Opportunities Commission chair Joanna Foster - stresses that it won't necessarily import what has worked in the US over the past 12 years. But with such multinationals as American Express, AT&T, IBM and General Motors on its books, the organisation believes it is well placed to help organisations increase employee commitment.

Ms Daniels points out that while "family-friendly"policies are generally associated with children, they can also take in caring for elderly parents or balancing a spouse's long hours.

Just as more and more companies are introducing a "menu" approach to benefits such as pensions and cars, so she envisages that they might in future offer a range of options to help employees balance their work and home lives. Such an initiative would also recognise that people's needs change over time. Accordingly, younger employees might be prepared to work longer hours, while slightly older ones might look for arrangements better suited to raising young children and middle-aged ones might like contracts that allow for care of the elderly.

There is some evidence, adds Ms Daniels, that in a climate where promotion and lifetime employment are no longer assumed, workers might swap pay rises for greater flexibility.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders