Abu Dhabi employers are being encouraged to create a family-friendly workplace under a new initiative.
The voluntary programme provides a set of criteria that employers can adopt to be recognised for their parent-friendly policies, practices and culture.
Called the Parent-Friendly Label, it was launched by Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court and the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority.
In a recent survey by the Department of Community Development, 45 per cent of respondents said the quality time they spent with their families was short to very short.
Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed said the importance of parents having a good work-life balance had been highlighted by the pandemic.
"The early care for children would have a positive impact on children, families and the whole community," he said.
"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."
Flexible working conditions
Family-friendly employers make it easier for their staff to balance family and work obligations.
Policies normally considered by businesses include flexible working arrangements, generous paid maternity and paternity leave, private spaces for nursing mothers and childcare assistance.
Some employers even have on-site nurseries.
Many of the measures are aimed at helping women return to work once they become mothers.
Sana Suhail, director general of the ECA, said family-friendly offices can give parents more time with their children.
"Creating parent-friendly workplaces improves the capabilities of working parents to efficiently contribute to their children’s emotional, cognitive and behavioural development during their early childhood, and thereby promoting their wellbeing," she said.
"Parent-friendly workplaces also encourage fathers to be more involved in the early years.
"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.
"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 Plus
Organisations looking to apply for the PFL must be from either the private, semi-government or third sectors, must have a valid trade licence issued in Abu Dhabi or a free zone in the emirate, and demonstrate a commitment to parent friendliness.
Those deemed to be particularly family friendly could be awarded the advanced Parent Friendly Plus Label.
Organisations have until September 23 to apply for a PFL. Submissions can be made at eca.gov.ae/en/pfl.
Several organisations have already adopted PFL policies, including Adnoc, Aldar, Miral, the Cleveland Clinic, Daman and HSBC.