Background: The NSPCC was established more than 100 years ago to protect children from cruelty. It is now at the forefront of child protection in the UK and has been granted special statutory powers allowing it to step in to safeguard children at risk.
The charity has recently been trying to prevent abuse by working to reduce the stresses of parenting. Over the past few years, it has lobbied the Government to help parents to balance their working lives more effectively.
As part of this strategy, the NSPCC has attempted to change the way that families are treated by companies and find out which employment policies really benefit children.
It recently formed an alliance with the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce to produce a report called Getting it Right - Improving work-life balance in your business, to promote flexible working practices.
Aims: The NSPCC hoped to show that family-friendly policies can benefit staff and their children as well as employers. The initiative included helping businesses to recognise the reality of parental responsibilities and helped to demonstrate how flexible working policies can help companies retain skilled and experienced staff as well as reduce the pressure on employees with children.
How it worked: On 6 April this year, the Employment Act 2002 came into force. The new legislation included a range of policies to help parents of young and disabled children juggle their work and caring responsibilities.
Getting it Right was launched alongside the new law to promote the family-friendly approach and help companies, particularly small businesses, develop flexible working policies.
The 32-page booklet uses 11 business case studies to provide practical examples and highlights ways that employers can help staff to improve their work-life balance. The case studies were chosen to reflect diversity in terms of size, ownership, sector and geographical area.
Getting it Right was then made available free of charge on the web sites of the three partner organisations (www.nspcc.org.uk/inform, www.fsb.org.uk and www.chamberonline.co.uk).
An A4 poster was produced in conjunction with the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce to advertise the publication and to give details of how it can be obtained. The two organisations then distributed 155,000 of the posters to their members.
The regional press also ran feature articles in the areas where the case study companies were based.
Results: The booklet has now been available for a month but because it will take time to change business' attitude to families, it is still too early to judge how beneficial it has been to parents and their children.
However, the NSPCC is pleased with the campaign so far and has found the experience of developing relationships with business groups very useful.
"By joining in partnership with employers we are attempting to change business culture and to highlight the benefits for all of flexible working practices," said Charlie Monkcom, employment policies and business practice adviser at NSPCC. "We hope that Getting it Right will have a big impact and be used by more and more employers."
Figures showing the number of times the report has been downloaded are currently being compiled by the charity.
The NSPCC is continuing its work in this area and will be sponsoring the family-friendly category at the 2003 Employer of the Year Awards in November. For further information about the awards, visit www.parentsatwork.org.uk.