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Work-life balance benefits business

Published: 22 Dec 2015 10:16

Most working parents surveyed expect caring responsibilities to increase.

Employers offering a balance of a fair wage and working hours will be increasingly attractive to workers as the need to care for elderly relatives grows, the Minister for Youth and Women's Employment has said.

Among the findings in the Modern Families Index 2015: Scotland survey of working parents was that 30 per cent of those questioned were currently caring for elderly parents and others. Almost 70 per cent expected to be doing do within the next decade, while still in work.

Annabelle Ewing said the research highlighted the importance of bosses doing more to help staff enjoy a reasonable quality of life – or risk losing talented employees to companies that can accommodate their caring responsibilities.

The Minister said:

"When we talk about flexible working, too often the perception is that it is a mother or father needing to look after children, but with an ageing population, that dynamic is changing. More and more people are taking on responsibility for looking after an elderly relative and are looking for the same understanding and support that we offer to many working parents. This is particularly important to us in Scotland as we are seeing our elderly population rate rise more quickly than the UK average.

"So many businesses are now working to a 24 hour, seven days a week timetable that expecting staff to stick to 9 to 5 office hours is outdated. Simple changes, such as looking at how to spread work across the day or week, can better meet staff needs and can mean companies can offer the wider range of service.

"Historically the benefits of fair work practices have been seen purely in terms of being the right thing to do but we are seeing more employers reporting positive effects on staff motivation and productivity. It can be daunting for employers to overhaul how they have worked for generations, and we will publish the Fairwork Convention framework next year to reflect on how more businesses can make flexible working work for them."

The survey also showed that 41 per cent of the parents surveyed said that their work life was becoming increasingly stressful and that a quarter felt constantly torn between work and family. More than a third said it was affecting their relationship with their partner.

The Minister added:

"The danger is that some of the best people are missing out on jobs because they are unable to balance their family responsibilities with the expectations of their employer. The index survey showed that the majority of working parents – both male and female – reported that childcare issues affect the decisions they take about changing their work role, which could mean rejecting opportunities for promotion or development.

"The knock-on effect of this is that employees with family responsibilities face greater barriers to advancing and increasing their earning potential. That is not only unacceptable as a society, but irresponsible from an economic position. Our own research shows that 44 per cent of working age adults in extreme poverty lived in working households which clearly shows how important our commitment to a Living Wage is to us all.

"We have taken steps to increase childcare for three and four-years-olds and vulnerable two-year-olds but it remains the case that people increasingly need to alter and adapt the way the work as they move through life. The more progress we make in this now, the better placed we will be to react to other growing demands, such as the huge swathes of Scottish workers who anticipate having to take on caring responsibility for elderly relatives in the next decade."

Notes to editors

The Modern Families Index 2015: Scotland reflects how working parents combine work and family life, based on the responses of 1,005 parents in paid employment from across the country.

This is the first time that Scotland has published a survey separately from the rest of the UK. While there are correlations to the findings elsewhere in the UK, this year it reflects that our elderly population is growing faster than the UK average, more people living in rural communities and the distribution of staff across small, medium and large private sector businesses.