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Could term-time working be a positive solution for both employers and parents?

It is that time of year again when children are eagerly awaiting the long summer break from school and many working parents are faced with the nightmare of both trying to find suitable holiday childcare and meeting the sky-high costs. 

This reality is borne out in research data.

The Coram Family and Childcare Annual Survey last year found the costs of holiday childcare were increasing.

Families on average were shelling out £900 per child for the six-week break, and it found a dire shortage of summer childcare with only 27% of English local authorities having sufficiency for those that work full-time.

What is current best practice for working parents and carers?

Flexible work gives working parents confidence to progress

How can employers champion single mothers?

Pregnant then Screwed’s survey of 27,000 parents last summer found that four in 10 parents said that they would need to take unpaid leave to manage the school holidays.

For employees and employers, a planned term-time working arrangement could potentially be superior to short-term ad hoc approaches.

Term-time working is also starting to gain traction with parents and employers showing that there is demand for this form of flexibility. 

A survey from Working Mums found that 46% of parents selected term-time working as their preferred way of flexible working in the future.

The recent Family Index from Working Families showed that 16% of parents surveyed were working term-time and whilst many were working in the education sector there was a wide spread of industries that were offering term-time working. 

Amazon introduced term-time working at the end of May 2023, providing its employees with guaranteed time off during summer, Easter and Christmas holidays.

At Belina Grow Community Interest Company, we know through working with parents who are job seeking that many want to work term-time. 

Our recent research paper on term-time working gives the figures, sets out the potential for this form of flexibility, as well as the perspective of term-time workers working at different levels of seniority. 

What was clear from the research was that term-time workers really appreciated the work/life balance that this form of flexibility offered to them and the quality time with their children, as well as the financial savings on childcare.

For employers there was also a value in offering term-time working, as parents talked about the loyalty they had to their employer.

A number cited term-time working as the reason that they had applied for their job at the company in the first place, and for others it was the reason that they had stayed with their employer.

The pandemic has shown that work can be done very differently with the dramatic increase in the number of people working from home and hybrid working, but employers should think about other forms of flexibility in the mix.

Term-time working is getting increased traction as a viable form of working for parents in the toolkit of flexible working. 

As the day one right to request flexible working legislation progresses through parliament, with its anticipated introduction in 2024, it will be wise for employers to be on the front foot in how they advertise vacancies as well as the different forms of flexibility that they offer including term-time working.

Term-time working could be a valuable tool in recruiting and retaining talent for forward thinking employers.

At Belina Grow CIC we hope to get funding for a longer-term research project on term-time working which will include working with employers to help to scale up this important form of flexibility.

Laura Dewar is head of research at Belina Grow Community Interest Company