Family Friendly Workplaces: A Valuable Employee Benefit Beyond Measure
Christine McDade is an experienced human resources manager.
Balancing Work and Family
In today's fast paced world of households with two working parents, it is important to allow employees flexibility to attend their children's school functions, field trips and extra curricular activities. Employers who allow employees time off to participate in such events are providing a much needed opportunity to support their children and still meet the demands of a full time job. With understanding and cooperation from both the boss and employee, both the needs of the employer and the family can be met successfully.
Do You Work for a Family Friendly Workplace?
Growing up in a home where only my father worked outside of the home, I could always count on my mother to take me to school, attend my softball games, school plays, etc. But as an adult and a working mother, I am not always home or available to attend these important childhood events for my own kids. For the last several years, I have been very fortunate to have supervisors who allowed me to be flexible in my work schedule to take a break from the work day to attend these precious special events. As an employee and supervisor, there are many things I have noticed over the years that make it possible:
- Give advanced notice - As much as possible, always communicate in advance when you are going to need to leave the office for an event. Often, you receive a parent letter or schedule of an event with some advanced notice which allows you to request the time off. Doing so allows your supervisor to plan and schedule accordingly to be sure there is proper coverage in the office, on the crew, etc. When there is communication between the employee and the supervisor, there may be some scheduling issues that can be arranged to accommodate the employee leaving the office for their son or daughter's special event.
- Work through a lunch and breaks - With permission from your supervisor, offer to make up the time you missed by working through lunch. The hour you usually take a lunch during your workday may be close to the time you need to get away to attend the event. With your supervisor's approval, you could choose to skip that lunch hour to use it for attending the desired event.
- Flex your schedule. - Again, with communication and approval from your boss, offer to come in early or stay late to make up the time you missed by going to your child's school function. Doing so will allow the hourly, nonexempt employee to still get their 40 hours of work or give the salaried employee some time to get the project completed. Please keep in mind that there is a significant difference between the nonexempt employee and exempt employee. Visit the www.dol.gov/whd/ (US Department of Labor/Wage and Hour Division) for more information about job classification for overtime and related pay issues.
- Offer to Switch Shifts with Coworker - If your job permits, find someone in your work area to cover for you or switch shifts. Once again, it will be necessary to plan accordingly in order to communicate with your boss of this change. There are many jobs where switching of shifts is a common practice.
- Utilize company leave time from your leave balance - Many of these functions happen during the middle of the day but only take an hour or more to attend. If your company has a policy on personal or vacation leave, follow the request to take time per the policy so that you can utilize time in your leave bank for the purpose of seeing your child during their special event.
What Benefits the Employee also Benefits the Employer
Employees who are permitted by their employers to take time off from work to attend family functions will be very grateful for such a workplace benefit. Children love to have their parents participate in their events. Parents can experience that sense of pride as they watch their children participate and compete in a variety of school and extra curricular activities. Employers who work with these employees to allow them time off for such events will earn a lot of appreciation from the employees. Employees are loyal to employers who promote putting family first. The benefit the employees will reap from such flexibility will be returned in the performance they provide in their jobs.
Girl Scout Field Trip
Department of Labor/Wage & Hour Division
- U.S. Department of Labor - Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - Home
The DOL Wage and Hour Division administers the wage, hour, and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and programs covering government contracts, farm labor, family and medical leave, immigration, and polygraph testing.