· 2 min read · Features

Addleshaw Goddard's flexibility puts it on the Top Employers for working families list

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Addleshaw Goddard achieved a place on the Top Employers for working families list by Working Families, sponsored by HR magazine, for its extensive family policies.

Flexible working for all is a key priority at the law firm. It proactively encourages both formal and informal flexible working and a significant number of parents choose to work in this way. As a result 16% of staff have in place a formal flexible working arrangement, approximately10% of which are men.

Role models are important - 9% of partners work formalised flexible patterns and many more work flexibly informally. The organisation tries to be creative in finding working arrangements that suit, acknowledging that there is no ‘one size fits all'. Successful examples include longer holiday arrangements, annualised hours and compressed hours, as well as standard part-time working.  IT is provided to enable greater freedom to work away from the office and investment has substantially increased in recent years.   

One example is a corporate transactional lawyer (a working mother) who chooses to work full time but varies the days she comes into the office each week. Depending on client requirements this can vary from every day to no days and she has, on many occasions, successfully managed completions from home.  

The firm launched its Little Additions network for expectant and new parents, both male and female, which offers support as follows:

During pregnancy - practical advice includes regular sessions with a dedicated HR contact and lunchtime network meetings providing an open forum for discussion. A free annual subscription to Practical Parenting magazine and discounts at various high-street and online parent-related retailers are also available.

During maternity leave - Addleshaw Goddard encourage mothers-to-be to identify a buddy within their department who will keep in regular contact, and those with laptops and BlackBerrys have the option to retain these should they so wish. Additionally, the quarterly Little Additions newsletter updates employees on company-wide news.

On return to work - arrangements include a structured programme of re-orientation and further Little Additions lunchtime meetings to offer advice and support throughout this important time.  

Some senior women benefit from maternity coaching, attending either one-to-one meetings or group sessions.

An enhanced maternity package includes full pay for the first 20 weeks of maternity leave and while this is dependent on returning to work, payments are made based on the hours worked before maternity leave, irrespective of the hours an individual returns on.  The firm recently reviewed its maternity package and staff feedback confirmed it provides financial support at a time when it is most required.  Equally it has for many years paid two weeks' full pay for paternity leave and encourages individuals to be flexible as to how best they manage this time.  

Return-to-work rates are encouraging, with 90% of those who commenced a maternity leave period during 2007 having come back, and approximately 75% of these did so on a flexible-working basis.    

The childcare voucher scheme allows parents to take advantage of tax and NI-free vouchers to pay for childcare costs. Take-up has increased steadily - 93 individuals have registered, a third of whom are men. Links from the company website provide access to emergency childcare and the firm is in the process of negotiating a more structured response. A buy-and-sell holiday scheme (which enables the purchase of up to one week's additional leave) and a sabbatical programme are both popular with parents.  

Judith Hardy, Addleshaw Goddard's HR director, commented: "As a firm we really do believe we are a natural choice for talent, and we have a made a very real commitment to ensuring we can attract, develop and retain the very best. It is wonderful to be recognised alongside such an outstanding group of organisations.

"The world of work has changed significantly since 1979 when Working Families was launched, and our clients now rightly expect to see a diverse workforce combined with a forward-looking and innovative partnership. We aim to continue to deliver both the highest level of service to our clients and the best opportunities to our people."

Find out more about Top Employers for working families