· 1 min read · Features

Family-friendly Hertfordshire County Council is recognised by Top Employers for working families list

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Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) is committed to supporting employees with caring and parenting responsibilities find ways of successfully combining caring with work and the council has introduced several initiatives to help these employees. A number of these initiatives and successes are detailed below.

The organisation offers flexible working to all employees regardless of circumstances or background. Nearly all (97.4%) of flexible-working requests are granted and 100% of requests for flexible working following maternity leave are granted.

Childcare vouchers are available to all employees through salary sacrifice, and at present 478 of employees benefit from this scheme every month, gaining up to £243 tax-free worth of vouchers per month, per parent.

Nearly a third of staff (31%) have declared caring responsibilities, of whom 87% look after children, 8.3% care for adults and 4.7% look after both children and adults. HCC offers five days' paid leave per year to enable employees to deal with an unexpected or sudden emergency involving a dependant. In addition to this, carers can also take an extra 20 days' unpaid leave per year

The council estimates approximately three quarters of employees work flexibly through its programme, The Way We Work. New working practices including home-working and location flexibility are actively promoted.

The HCC Carers Group has 27 members at present who are entitled to take time off to attend meetings. The group meets quarterly and comments are fed directly to HR employment policy-makers, ensuring their views are heard.

The firm also runs a well-attended annual conference for carers with invitations sent out from the chief executive who also attends and gives a welcoming speech. The conference involves a number of workshops, with the purpose of providing information about services that can help them as well as giving carers the opportunity to tell the company how it could improve things.

And in the2008 employee satisfaction survey, 72% of employees agreed that their line manager is sensitive to their work-life balance.

Louise Harrington, assistant director (HR) at Hertfordshire County Council, said: "We are delighted that Hertfordshire County Council has been selected as a Top Employer for working families.

"Our commitment to offering options such as flexible working and career breaks for carers helps us deliver more flexible and appropriate services to the people of Hertfordshire, and gains the commitment of our employees. We will continue to ensure that we lead the way in helping employees balance work with their families."

More information on Top Employers for Working Families