Work and childcare

Back Work and childcare

I’ve worked in the science and technology sector for my whole career, starting off by completing a PhD in Physics, then migrating into computer modelling, and then into software development. For much of that time, I have been a working parent. I’ve written a longer blog post on the trials and tribulations of being a working parent but my key takeaways for IWD 2022 and #breakthebias are:

  • Flexible working arrangements for parents should be standard

It shouldn’t matter whether it’s mum or dad at the school gate; whoever is managing childcare at 3pm should have access to flexibility from their employers. It's essential to accommodate modern day working and childcare. Parents have schedules to meet, parents evenings and school plays to attend, and sometimes sick children to tend to. Having an understanding manager who doesn’t watch the clock, allows you to complete your working hours according to whatever pattern works - perhaps doing a few hours work in the evening if you need to leave an office at 5pm to do a nursery pick up, makes our lives so much easier. We could also do with no judgement on whether it’s a man or woman juggling those needs. When I was a child my dad was the only one at the gate, but these days the number of dads working flexibly and doing 50/50 (or more) of the childcare is much higher, and that is only a good thing. In roles with previous employers, I have seen male colleagues experience discrimination for asking for flexiblilty to accommodate childcare, for example expressions of incredulity when they state an intention to take paternity leave. Or comments from a former boss of my husband, who when he requested extended paternity leave before the law changed, said to him something along the lines of “you can do that when men start giving birth to babies”. Let's stamp these attitudes out once and for all. Encouraging a more equitable balance around childcare responsibilities benefits both mothers and fathers. If it’s always mum who has to dash home to collect her children then she might feel unable to (for example) take a job with more responsibilities and longer hours.

  • Improve Maternity Pay

It's the 21st century - let's offer our parents decent maternity packages. My employer when I had my daughter (not 67 Bricks, I should add) only offered the barest minimum maternity package, and I could only afford to take four months’ maternity leave (my take-home pay went down to around £120 a week after the first 6-weeks of leave). Child-rearing is expensive. Attractive maternity packages will improve company’s staff retention and employee satisfaction no end. Surely it’s worth investing in? NB The 67 Bricks maternity policy is better than many (employees who have been here 2 years get 12 weeks on full pay and 12 weeks on half pay).

Rosie is a Senior Software Developer at 67 Bricks.