Caring for one another builds strong families. Just before the turn of the millennium, most families had a full-time stay-at-home caregiver, primarily the mother.
However, today's parents have to work with only one in every five children having a stay-at-home parent. Most families rely on double income to get by, but many workplace structures all too often cause strain to work and life balance.
Working parents have been stigmatized for years for asking for leave or flexible arrangements, with many having their work ethics questioned as a result. If there's one thing most people took out from the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, it's that work-life balance is critical, especially for parents.
From January 14 to February 27, 2020, Nestlé surveyed over 8,000 mothers and fathers with babies aged 0 to 12 months and the survey showed that parents felt the happiest and most supported at work based on factors such as; the absence of pressure, financial stability, support for working life, health and wellbeing resources, and shared parenting.
The study recommended the setting up of societal support in the form of fair parental leave laws and policies that empower working parents and flexible working alternatives.
According to Flexjobs, an online platform that helps people find remote and flexible work, survey in 2020, 82% of working parents identify work-life balance as the most important factor when considering a new role.
Employment alone isn't just enough; a work environment that accommodates the unique challenges that parents face is more beneficial.
Here are some of the top job benefits to inquire about (or look for in a new job) so that you may thrive, achieve a better work-life balance, and have more peace of mind, whether you work in an office or from home.
As a parent, having a flexible work schedule is critical.
Stacey Delo, the CEO of Apres, a digital network that assists mothers in finding jobs when they return to work and the co-author of the book; Your Turn: Careers, Kids and Comebacks - A Working Mother’s Guide says;
“We will have failed working parents unless we can find out a way to go forward in a more flexible fashion that allows them to be the parents they want to be.”
Lorna Borenstein, CEO and founder of Grokker, a wellness solutions company and the author of, It’s personal: The Business Case for Caring, adds;
“Employers must recognize the necessity for working parents to have flexible schedules and the ability to work from home on occasion."
Having a flexible work schedule means that you can work from home when you have a sick child and take care of them or you can have a flexible schedule that can allow you to attend to other concerns about parenting.
Flexible work hours could also mean that you can have time after work to help your kids with their homework or just spend time with them. It is also being able to have a working schedule that allows for weekends so that parents can maximize their time with their children at home.
As a job seeker, you should inquire not only about whether the company offers flexible work schedules or work-from-home policy but also how current employees utilize them. That could be an indication that whatever the policy is, is it being implemented or not.
You also have to remember that when making such plans either with your current or a potential employer, consider the business benefits which means that you have to maintain your level of productivity.
Except for the three months of maternity leave for a mother and two weeks of paternity leave for a father, present labor laws (section 29, Employment Act, 2007) do not particularly provide for working parents.
According to a report by Kathleen Romig, a senior policy analyst, and Kathleen Bryant in 2019 dubbed “A National Paid Leave Program Would Help Workers, Families” paid parental leave:
The next time you want to say yes to that job offer, inquire about their parental leave policy if you're planning to have children in the future.
Parents, too, require mental health days. Check to see whether your potential or current employer offers such. This way, you may enjoy time with your family and have some time to steam off.
Kenyan employees are allowed to take a minimum of 21 days off every year. According to the law, these days count as annual leave days and are compensated. However, the leave can only be taken if the individual has worked for the same employer for a 12-month period.
Kenya has approximately 13 public holidays each year and If the holiday falls on a Sunday, employees are permitted to have a day off on the next day - Monday.
When an employee has worked for the same company for a year, they are entitled to 14 days of sick leave. The first seven days of sick leave are paid at 100% of the usual pay rate, with the remaining days paid at 50% of the regular pay rate.
To be eligible for these benefits, the employee must have worked at their present location for at least two months. Furthermore, workers must present a medical certificate.
Medical bills might quickly build up, and as a parent, finding strategies that can help you cut health-care costs is critical. You have to check if your workplace offers family health insurance, not just for you or your spouse, but for your children as well.
In Kenya currently, there's no specific law that makes a provision for employee healthcare coverage beyond the mandatory National Health Insurance Fund that is deducted from an employee’s salary, although some companies provide medical care for their employees' children up to the age of 18 and 23, respectively, if they are still in school.
There are even a couple of organizations that provide clinics, scholarships, and baby care centers near their locations so as to assist their employees.
If you're a parent, considering a job offer, or even in your current workplace, getting health coverage for yourself, your spouse and your children could benefit you a lot.
Lorna Borenstein in her new book, It's personal: The Business Case for Caring, defines loud/vocal parenting as talking about your children openly, and how they impact your life, and not being ashamed of sharing about their achievements, and how you are involved in their lives.
In an interview with Parents.com, Madeline Levine, Ph.D., a child psychologist, said, “Parenting absolutely needs to be normalized in the workplace.”
She added that she was far more interested in having the roles of parents being acceptable and admired as part of who parents are as people.
“I just think that the idea that not only are we parents, but that fact typically makes us better at a whole lot of things like collaboration is what matters. I'd prefer 'normalized parenting' or 'honest parenting' or 'comprehensive parenting' or just plain 'parenting.”
Suzanne Brown, a work-life balance speaker, and the author of Mompowerment: Insights from Successful Professional Part-Time Working Moms Who Balance Career and Family and The Mompowerment Guide to Work-life Balance, added that she has never been of the idea that one should work like they don't have a family or parent.
So Instead of making up an excuse to leave work early, you'd just say that you have your child's school event that you'd like to attend, or request for an early morning schedule to be moved to the afternoon because you have to take your child to see the doctor or drop them to school.
The good news is that the workplace transformation is gaining traction.
An increasing number of companies are realizing the value of having family-friendly practices and are even open to implementing ever more benefits to ensure that their employees get nothing but the best.
To parents daily juggling working and parenting, you are not alone!