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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month