Childcare causing chaos?

02 June 2017

The average cost of full-time childcare in the UK is £222.36 a week. That’s a whopping £889.44 per month (based on a four-week month), and a somewhat heart-breaking £11,562.72 a year.

With those figures in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many employees struggle to fork out for childcare.

The cost to your business

Did you know that, almost one in five working parents said they’d pull a sickie at work to cover the cost of childcare over half term*?

That, potentially, opens your business up to a whole load of problems, like:

  • Labour shortages – which means a reduction in productivity
  • Extra costs – i.e. hiring an agency worker to maintain productivity
  • Lost money – paying for an employee who’s not at work
  • Unhappy customers – if their absence has a knock-on effect
  • Stressed employees – if others have to pick up the slack
  • Lost time – if you’ve got to reorganise workloads.

It’s hard to put a price on what the above could cost your business. But the cost of a hassle-free summer? Priceless.

Know your options

Flexible working: any employee who’s been with you for more than 26 weeks has the statutory right to request flexible working. You’re only able to refuse such a request if you’ve a strong business reason for doing so.

Is it practicably possible for your business to allow employees to work flexibly? If so, it could allow them to accommodate childcare into their working life, without thinking about pulling a sickie. Accepting an employee’s flexible working request is going to be a permanent change to the employee’s working pattern, so you’ll also need to revisit their contract of employment – don’t worry, we can help with that.

To avoid any unwanted disputes, remember to handle any requests fairly, timely and document any requests and outcomes in writing.

Working from home: home working is becoming increasingly popular. If your set-up allows it, home working allows employees to easily juggle their dependents and workload – without the hassle of the daily commute.

If this is something you’re considering granting, there are a few things you’ll need to look into. For starters, it’d be a wise idea to put a homeworking policy in place to ensure there’s consistency across all employees – regardless of where they work from.

You may also need to revise existing policy documents in-line with this and, as with flexible working requests, contracts may need to be revisited.

Information support: childminding schemes and workplace nurseries are a far stretch for most businesses but, at the very least, you could provide your employees with childcare support – i.e. the different options out there, childcare vouchers, local provisions, promote nearby offers, etc.

Whichever route (if any) you go down to accommodate childcare into your business, remember to be fair. The last thing you want is employees without dependants left feeling disadvantaged or disgruntled as a result of any childcare leniencies.

Need help with the implementation?

If you’re worried about how to properly handle and implement flexible and home working requests, don’t struggle in silence. We’ve a team of expert consultants available on 0345 844 1111, who’d be happy to help you along the way.

*According to research conducted by vouchercloud.

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