Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Authority has introduced the Parent-Friendly Label (PFL) for companies, an initiative that aims to promote a parent-friendly workplace culture in Abu Dhabi.
Launched under the patronage and in the presence of HH Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), it is a voluntary initiative that 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.
The announcement of the launch happened during Sheikh Theyab’s virtual meeting with ECA leadership, which was attended by HE Sana Mohamed Suhail, Director General of ECA, HE Dr. Yousef Al Hammadi, Executive Director of Knowledge & Impact Sector, HE Eng. Thamer Rashed AlQasimi, Executive Director of Special Projects & Partnerships Sector, HE Hamad Al Zaabi, Executive Director of Organizational Enablement Sector, and a number of ECA staff.
The importance of supporting working parents
HH Sheikh Theyab emphasized the active role that the private sector, semi-government and third sector organizations can play in supporting children’s holistic development, by adopting parent-friendly policies and ways of working, to support working parents as they care for their children, especially during their early childhood.
“The early care for children would have a positive impact on children, families and the whole community. Therefore, the PFL helps supporting the ambitious vision of the UAE’s future over the next fifty years, creating enabled generations to face challenges and shape the future, and pushing forward the UAE’s journey of development and prosperity launched by the founding fathers,” Sheikh Theyab noted.
Sheikh Theyab highlighted the PFL’s importance, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic and resultant unprecedented life challenges, particularly relevant to the child’s care and education as well as work-life balance for parents.
“By creating parent-friendly workplaces that understand children’s needs, the PFL will provide children with adequate support within their families, to ensure their healthy development and early learning. This, in turn, would increase Abu Dhabi’s workplace attractiveness, retention and productivity,” Sheikh Theyab added.
How companies can become officially ‘Parent-Friendly’
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.
From her side, HE Sana Suhail said: “Creating parent-friendly workplaces improves the capabilities of working parents to efficiently contribute to their children’s emotional, cognitive and behavioral development during their early childhood, and thereby promoting their wellbeing. In addition to strengthening social and family bonds, parent-friendly workplaces increase working parents’ engagement, wellbeing, retention and productivity, thus enhancing economic growth and social welfare in Abu Dhabi.”
Parent-friendly workplaces increase working parents’ engagement, wellbeing, retention and productivity, thus enhancing economic growth and social welfare
Benefits for mothers, fathers and children
HE Sana Suhail stressed that parent-friendly workplaces can greatly contribute to reducing parental stress and parent absenteeism in their children’s lives, and increasing chances of women realizing their full potential, while contributing both at home and to the economy.
“Parent-friendly workplaces also encourage fathers to be more involved in the early years, supporting children to have better developmental outcomes, potentially leading to less behavioral problems and improved cognitive and mental health. Moreover, rates of infant acute, chronic illnesses and the likelihood of a variety of infections can decrease when working mothers are supported to nurse their babies,” she added.
Furthermore, Suhail indicated that 45% of respondents to the second edition of “Quality of Life Questionnaire”, conducted by the Department of Community Development, stated that the quality time they spend with their families is short to very short.
Why it's in a company's interests to become parent-friendly
ECA calls on all organizations interested in applying for the PFL to complete and submit the relevant application form at https://eca.gov.ae/en/pfl during the application window of 30 May to 23 September 2021.
Recipients of the Parent-Friendly Label are entitled to receive a range of benefits, including membership of an exclusive community of like-minded organizations to exchange success stories, share learnings and leading practices with, as well as public recognition of their status as a parent-friendly employer.
To ensure the credibility and integrity of the PFL, all applicants will be 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. Eight of these criteria are mandatory and 11 are optional. These categories include parental leave, flexible work, family care, family wellbeing and culture. Organizations will also be invited to share the creative and non-traditional approaches they have applied to better support parents through innovative workplace policies and practices.
In 2020, 10 semi-government, private sector and third sector organizations were recognized for introducing a variety of parent-friendly practices and policies such as parental leave that goes beyond the mandated requirement, flexible working arrangements and nursing rooms. They were also recognized for adopting an internal culture that encourages a better work-life balance for parents. Earlier this year, these organizations collaborated with ECA to develop the PFL’s criteria.
ECA seeks to support Abu Dhabi’s young children to thrive by enabling and collaborating with its partners from various industries and sectors. The Authority encourages workplaces to adopt parent-friendly policies, facilities and work practices, in its endeavors to ensure that every young child is healthy, confident, curious, able to learn and develop strong values in a safe, family-friendly Abu Dhabi.