It may only be six weeks but the summer holidays seem to last forever for some families. That’s not to say spending time with our children isn’t enjoyable, but in families where parents must make provision for childcare over a long period of time, it can be a struggle, time-wise, financially and mentally.
With the children back to school this week for most of the country, many parents will be returning to their usual work/home routines, but do we really understand the pressures they’ve been under since July?
For those who need to try to and juggle the work/home balance year-round due to work commitments, the summer holidays can be disruptive – depending on individual circumstances. It’s not typically possible to take all summer off on leave (paid or unpaid), as this would leave employers understaffed (and likely create issues in the workplace with colleagues, who don’t have children and would have to take on the additional strain). Also, most people would say there is an element of satisfaction to their job and they wouldn’t want to stop working over the summer.
There are many reasons why parents return to work after having a child; money is a big factor, as is mental well-being and wanting to continue pursuing a career as well as being a parent. Happy parents equal happy children, and many people find they feel more fulfilled taking on both roles as parent and worker rather than staying at home full-time, even though this does negate the cost of childcare.
The summer holidays can cause a shift in the job satisfaction many parents get from their work, as they may feel torn between wanting to be at home with the children and needing to be at work. Again, money factors here, as parents may want to take more time off, but financially can’t afford to.
Using Annual Leave
One of the solutions to the holiday childcare problem is to use annual leave allowance to take time off, whilst still being paid. However, this doesn’t work well for several reasons:
1. Few people will have enough annual leave to cover all of the extended summer holiday period.
2. Taking 6/7 weeks away from work in a block would leave the workplace understaffed, and prevent colleagues from using their own annual leave.
3. Employees need to be able to use their annual leave throughout the year, to cover for other events that may arise.
If employees feel they can’t use their annual leave or don’t have enough, this can make the whole work/life balance conundrum even more difficult to process, especially if flexible working is not an option.
A supportive employer can really make a difference to working parents, especially if flexible working is an option and can be put in place before the holidays so all parties have a plan to work to. This eases the holiday period for all concerned; not just the employee and employer, but the rest of the workforce too.
At VST, our recruitment strategy is mostly based on a part-time model which gives our employees flexibility around their family activities. In July 2017 we were commended by the Working Families Top Employers Awards for flexible working. We’re proud to be a family-friendly employer and offer flexible working options to everyone on our team.
We’d love to hear from you if you’re looking for a new role, call Hannah on 01604 609 940 or visit our Careers page to view the current opportunities.