Banks and financial firms dominate list of most flexible employers
Companies urged to do more for fathers in survey looking at provision for working families
Banks might be considered among the worst companies for customer service, but they are the best to work for if you have children, according to a survey for the charity Working Families.
Four of the 10 employers scoring the highest marks in the charity's annual survey of flexible working policies and practices were banks: Barclays, Citi, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS. The top 30 also included the Bank of England, while the company judged best for flexible working overall was financial services firm American Express.
The survey is completed by employers who want to see how their provision for working families compares with that of other organisations, and to find out how it can be improved. They can also enter for a range of special awards recognising best practice in different categories.
This year more than 49 companies employing nearly half a million staff applied, most of them large organisations, although three smaller businesses were also recognised for their efforts.
The charity said it had taken into account the background of ongoing economic uncertainty, job insecurity and low growth when looking at companies in 2012, but "employers appear to have been robust in their defence of flexibility".
It said it had seen improvements in the way fathers were being treated in the workplace, with 61% of organisations paying fathers to attend ante-natal appointments compared with 50% of respondents to 2011's survey.
"This is a benefit other employers should consider introducing to support their working fathers, and is one of the relatively easy policy changes which will send an invaluable positive message and build trust between the organisation and the employee," it said.
However, it urged companies to be more flexible about when they let fathers take ordinary paternity leave, as only 42% of employers currently allow any flexibility.
It also said employers should examine how they decide who is and is not allowed to work flexibly, as half of organisations said they took into account the reason for a request as well as the business case.
"This risks creating a hierarchy of 'worthiness' of requests, which can easily lead to feelings of unfairness in the approval process and undermine flexibility … employers need to examine their motivations: are they convinced by the business case for flexible working, or really seeing it as just for mothers," it said.
Mary Mercer, principal consultant at the Institute for Employment Studies, and one of the awards judges, said: "This year more of us than ever have taken advantage of flexible working to enjoy the world-class events happening in the UK.
"We would like to see flexible working becoming embedded: the normal way of doing things and available to all."
Top 10 benchmarked employers (alphabetically)
Hogan Lovells International LLP
National Assembly for Wales
Royal Bank of Scotland
Southdown Housing Association
Best for mothers Deloitte
Best for fathers Citi and the London School of Economics and Political Science
Best for carers Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Work & careers
- Employee benefits
- Maternity & paternity rights
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