Family-friendly policies for the wellbeing of working parents
The Business Council on Child Rights presented the results of the first survey on family-friendly practices in Montenegrin companies
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Podgorica, 19 April 2022 – UNICEF’s Business Council on Child Rights today presented a survey on family-friendly practices and policies, which shows that Montenegrin companies are recognizing the benefits of family-friendly policies for business.
More than 60 per cent of the respondents from more than 130 companies in Montenegro recognize that family-friendly policies lead to increased loyalty and employee satisfaction, and 40 per cent believe they contribute to increased productivity levels.
UNICEF Montenegro Representative Juan Santander highlighted the importance of the support to working parents for healthy child development.
“UNICEF is supporting businesses worldwide to advance their action on family-friendly policies, because there is rich evidence that shows how such policies benefit children and women, businesses and economies", Santander said.
This survey is the first step in promoting good business practices, starting with the members of the Business Council on Child Rights. This survey will also support our future joint advocacy efforts to improve legislation on family-friendly policies and it will guide our continued efforts on promoting the benefits of family-friendly policies for family wellbeing and health.
The survey found that existing family-friendly practices in Montenegrin companies include: flexible working hours, working from home, a day-off on the first day of school, a day-off on a child’s birthday, company family days, financial and non-financial New Year’s gifts for children, one-time gifts for a new-born baby and special benefits for single parents.
Mitar Bajčeta from the Montenegrin Chamber of Economy stated the importance of this survey in promoting family-friendly policies within the business community.
I am positive that the findings of this survey will contribute to reducing the gap between the current family-friendly policies and the needs of working parents.
The survey also found that 71 per cent of fathers do not apply for paternity leave, mostly for cultural reasons which include the traditional role of fathers, prejudices and social stigma, organizational reasons, insufficient knowledge about paternity leave options and systemic barriers, as men have higher salaries than women.
Karen Maddocks, the British Ambassador to Montenegro, said that UNICEF’s research backs up what she has long believed: that encouraging more men to take parental leave would not only lead to benefits for the family, but it also promotes gender equality in the workplace. “If men and women were equally comfortable to take parental leave or to better balance work and home, this would make it less likely that employees would favour recruitment of men. Maternity is one of the biggest factors leading to discrimination against women in the workforce. There needs to be a focus on supporting men to make this choice, despite the expectations that society places on them,” Ambassador Maddocks said.
The survey also found that only 17 per cent of the companies include family-friendly policies in their business and HR strategies and policies, and that only one in four companies assess the needs of their employees for their work–life balance.
UNICEF’s Young Reporters Aleksandra Vujović and Simon Perović also commented on the existing family-friendly policies and the impacts they have on their parents, asking for a better work–life balance which they see as one of the priorities that need to be addressed by businesses.
“This topic is important for young people for two reasons: firstly – we want to see our parents happier and more relaxed, and not so stressed about the amount of time they spend working. And secondly – tomorrow, when I and my peers start working, we would like to work in a company that takes care of our wellbeing,” Young Reporter Simon Perović said.
“Our peers told us they witness their parents working after their working hours to complete all the tasks they have. This means less time with them and, definitely, less joy. One of the suggestions is that employers should have more understanding for the private lives of their employees, so that they do not have to take unpaid leave to be with their families,” Young Reporter Aleksandra Vujović said.
Currently, seven business associations (the Chamber of Economy, the Montenegrin Foreign Investor Council, the Association of Managers, the Association of Banks, AmCham, ICT Cortex and Rotary Clubs of Montenegro) and eight companies (Crnogorska komercijalna banka, Crnogorski Telekom, One, Mtel,