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How does your business measure up in parental support?

Bright Horizons surveyed 500 UK businesses for its 2023 Parental Leave Benchmark

A study* reveals new data showing which employer benefits and policies are now  standard expectations. Crucially, it also details those which will give employers the competitive edge when looking at their employee benefits provision. 

This year’s Benchmark reveals that top employers are broadening their family leave policies to increase inclusivity and support for working families. The research covers three key employee life stages, the parent transition, ongoing parenting and carers. 

Bright Horizons’ Parental Leave and Family Support Benchmark surveyed over 500 UK organisations to gain insight into their current offering and future plans. Key findings include:

  • Over 60% of employers provide enhanced maternity (72%) and paternity (64%)  pay above statutory. 
  • 56% reported a level of inclusive family leave, whatever the role in parenting, including fathers. 
  • For 57% of businesses, attracting and retaining talent is the key driver for decisions about parental leave policies, followed by inclusivity for working fathers (43%)
  • The number of employers providing at least 26 weeks enhanced parental leave has increased by 13% since 2021. 

Many employers are now recognising the business value of understanding their people’s needs and supporting them at every stage of their life journey. Providing gender and family-role-inclusive leave, and support for phased returns, particularly using accrued holidays has become more commonplace. However, the findings reveal that only 15% of employers are going further and promoting provisions such as Back Up Care and advice on childcare to new parents, even though 30% of employers offer back-up care for ongoing parents. 

Denise Priest, Executive Director of Work + Family Solutions explains these findings show that offering a greater breadth of employee support provides businesses with a competitive advantage:  

“More employers are recognising the need to step in and provide better support and understanding when it comes to family responsibilities. 

“As a leading provider of innovative work and family solutions, we’re seeing forward-thinking employers looking at what holistic support for career and family entails. They’re broadening the family support they offer – such as medical care, coaching, phased returns, childcare, Back Up Care and manager training, but there is plenty of room for growth. 

“It’s also clear there is growing support for families at all stages of life, from new parents and parents of older children to carers of adults. For more than half of the companies surveyed, remaining competitive in the jostle to attract and retain talent is the key driver for these decisions. It’s the right thing to do for people and for business.”

Jennifer Liston-Smith, Head of Thought Leadership at Bright Horizons, added: “Whilst these findings are promising, the models of best practice we’ve drawn up based on the results show 60% of employers only cover the basic requirements when it comes to parental leave. It’s important to note more can be done to support employees and the trailblazing options are there to see in the results.

“Businesses who are leading in this field are providing at least 26 weeks’ fully paid parental leave, access to medical advice and a coach or guide to support areas of growth. And for the 15% who have the competitive edge in the market, they offer employees access to Back Up Care (or care gap cover) and local childcare support.”

*Survey conducted by Bright Horizons. View the full report here

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