Charities failing to support staff with children

Charities' support for working parents still has a long way to go to match standards of excellence in the public and private sectors, research has revealed.

A survey by The Guardian gave poor ratings to Cancer Research UK for its use of an ‘early return option’ that encourages women to return to work soon after giving birth. The British Heart Foundation and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution were also given poor ratings.

Even among charity leaders in the field – Save the Children UK came top, followed by the NSPCC and Oxfam – maternity pay was “nothing special or had strings attached”, the report said.

“Given its underpinning of social values, the sector emerged as surprisingly mediocre at supporting its working parents,” the report said.

The newspaper noted, however, that flexible working practices, a significant perk for parents returning to work, were widespread across the sector.

One explanation the newspaper volunteered for the sector’s poor performance was that charities still shied away from allocating scant resources to staff benefits. Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, said it was also likely that there was an assumption within the sector that people chose to work for charities to defend their causes, not to get handsome benefits.

Save the Children UK told Third Sector that family-friendly policies were integral to its human resources thinking and that parental benefits formed a significant part of their benefits.

CRUK reacted angrily to The Guardian’s survey, claiming the newspaper had misinterpreted its early return option.

“The early return option has been kept due to staff demand,” said Christine Lloyd, executive director of people and organisational development at Cancer Research UK. “There is obviously no obligation whatsoever for women to take up the option. We offer exactly the same weeks of full and statutory pay as other charities listed as ‘above average’, which should enter us into the same category.”

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