Supporting dads at work

London School of Economics and Political Science's initiatives to support dads in the workplace as well as mums have won them the Top Employer Best for Dads for the second year running.

London School of Economics and Political Science's initiatives to support dads in the workplace as well as mums have won them the Top Employer Best for Dads for the second year running.

Last year they were praised for their Balancing Work and Becoming a Dad workshops, but this year they have developed these further and launched further innovative policies.

So far 29 men have taken part in the workshops which are held when there is demand for them.

Gail Keeley, HR Manager, Policy and Employee Relations, says the feedback has been excellent and the workshops are regularly evaluated. Interestingly, while the feedback from the workshops for Balancing Work and Becoming a Mum suggested the sessions needed to be longer than 90 minutes so that mums could network more – they have been increased to an afternoon – dads did not want longer sessions.

The workshops for dads are open not just to employees but also to the partners of female employees who work elsewhere.  “They are harder to get feedback from, but they do say they wish there was something like that in their organisations,” says Keeley.

She says gradually more and more men are taking a greater role in parenting. More fathers at LSE are, for instance, taking up additional paternity leave. Indeed since a change in LSE policy in late 2013  it now makes financial sense to do so. If, for instance, two academics i.e. Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, and Full Professors) are partners, the couple can get more money if the father is also eligible for additional paternity leave after the mother has taken six months off on contractual maternity pay. They also gain paid research leave which allows them to focus on their research and develop their careers.

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Flexible working

Part of LSE's award-winning strategy is down to its approach to flexible working. For the first time staff taking part in its annual staff survey were asked whether they worked flexibly. The data is now being analysed and will provide the LSE with important insights into, for instance, how many flexible working requests have been agreed.  Both informally and formally, some 45.3% of women at LSE work flexibly, compared to 37.6% of men. Women were over twice as likely to work reduced hours, however. Working from home, compressed hours and flexi hours were more or less equal between the genders. Interestingly, term time working was also fairly equal and five men did job shares, compared with 11 women. At least one job share is an academic one and involves a man and a woman. Keeley says it can be harder to reach dads than mums with information on new policies and practices. 

LSE also provides emergency childcare and there are plans to improve the nursery facilities which are open to staff and students.

The institution is also doing more and more work on carers and Keeley says LSE is reviewing what support it offers to carers. Other plans for the future include a workshop on balancing work and looking after a disabled child which will take place later this year.

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