RDS_181113 Parents time child
Parent-friendly working policies can lower employee stress, increase worker loyalty, and also benefit the cognitive and emotional development of children Image Credit: Stock image

Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Authority is inviting companies in the capital to sign up to its new ‘Parent Friendly Label’ (PFL) initiative, which provides an independent set of criteria that employers can adopt in order to be recognized and awarded for their parent-friendly policies, practices and culture.

Just launched on May 30, 2021, there aren’t any organizations that have received the official Parent-Friendly Label award yet. But there are 10 companies that have been pinpointed by the ECA as some of the most parent-friendly businesses operating in Abu Dhabi so far.

“In November 2020, Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Authority recognized 10 semi-government, private sector and third sector organizations for being ‘early adopters’ of parent-friendly practices and policies,” said Laila Al Hassan, Acting Chief Culture Officer at Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.

Earlier this year, these organizations collaborated with ECA to develop the PFL’s criteria. Al Hassan said the parent-friendly policies being embraced by these companies include:

  • Parental leave that goes beyond the mandated requirement
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Dedicated nursing rooms for mothers who are breastfeeding
  • Adopting an internal culture that encourages a better work-life balance for parents

10 UAE companies that are parent-friendly ‘Early adopters’

  • Adnoc
  • Aldar
  • Al Fahim Group
  • Daman
  • Emirates Nature-WWF
  • Miral
  • Mubadala
  • Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
  • HSBC
  • New York University Abu Dhabi

What being a Parent-Friendly Company means

Organizations can apply to one of the label’s two levels, the Parent-Friendly (the first level) and Parent-Friendly Plus (the advanced level). Organizations eligible to apply for the PFL must be either from the private sector, semi-government sector or third sector, must have a valid trade license issued in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi or issued by a free zone in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and demonstrate a commitment to parent-friendliness.

The categories that companies need to demonstrate a commitment in are:

  • PARENTAL LEAVE: Dedicated leave days and arrangements provided to parents to support them before, during and on return from the birth or adoption of their child.
  • FLEXIBLE WORK: Flexible work practices are accommodated to allow for caring responsibilities and changing family arrangements.
  • FAMILY CARE: Employees are supported and empowered to make choices to reconcile work and caring responsibilities.
  • FAMILY WELLBEING: Support for the emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing of employees and their families is offered.
  • WORKPLACE CULTURE: Parent-friendly policies and practices are embedded into organizational culture through training, professional development, monitoring and feedback mechanisms.
  • INNOVATION: The ECA also invites companies to share how their organization has applied creative and non-traditional approaches to better support parents through innovative workplace policies and practices.

All applicants to receive the PFL label are assessed against 19 criteria spanning five categories, by an independent third party as well as an independent judging panel, made up of senior members from leading public institutions. Companies can read more about the criteria and apply on the ECA website: https://eca.gov.ae/en/pfl/how-to-apply.

Why companies want to be Parent Friendly

The ECA states that there is promising evidence from around the world showing that improved parent-friendly policies result in better social and economic outcomes.

According to the ECA, these are some of the benefits for a company deciding to become more Parent-Friendly:

  • COST-EFFECTIVE: As many as 90% of companies who implemented parent-friendly policies found them to be cost-effective.
  • DECREASED STAFF TURNOVER: When Google increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks, it experience a 50% reduction in female staff turnover.
  • HAPPIER EMPLOYEES: There is an 18% reduction in the likelihood of mothers experiencing depression throughout their lives due to extended parental leave.
  • LESS SICK LEAVE: Improved support for nursing employees leads to a decrease in employee sick leave, as employees miss work less often because breastfed infants tend to experience fewer and shorter illnesses.
  • A COMPETITIVE EDGE: 77% of Australian employees consider extended parental leave to be a factor that increases company attractiveness.