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11 Jun 2024

Ways to create a fair approach to reward and benefits for parents and non-parents

Parents are important, but employees without children must not be neglected when implementing rewards and benefits packages

Ways to create a fair approach to reward and benefits for parents and non-parents.jpg


How can we flex our reward and benefits muscles to serve parents in the best possible way without inadvertently penalising our non-parents? Parents are busy, often pulled in different directions and under a lot of pressure. However, who is to say that non-parents do not suffer similar stresses and strains due to overwork, caring, living with pain or working multiple jobs? 

It may seem obvious but to create a fair approach to our rewards and benefits packages and avoid scenarios where a lack of fairness may creep in, we need to approach any new strategic thinking or radical change with openness, transparency and fairness.

The careful positioning of benefits

Sometimes benefits can be offered in a way that makes them more specific to parents than they need to be. If they’re not careful companies positioning benefits in this way can fall into the trap of looking one-eyed.

At Personal Group, for example, we offer a day off to mark a child's first day at school. It is a nice family-friendly benefit that helps parents, particularly with some of the logistical and practical issues being faced for the first time as well as the stress-related issues that come with that occasion. Companies such as SAGA offer grandparental leave too to mark the same occasion, allowing grandparents the flexibility to help. From the company’s perspective both seem like an easy win. They build loyalty at a momentous time and help parents cope better with a day that they might have spent relatively unproductively anyway.

We realised that for those without children such a singular benefit might be seen as unfair because it is obviously only open to parents. In response to this, we adapted to offer a more universal Life Event leave open to all employees. This allows anyone to have a paid day’s leave for a key life event such as getting married, becoming a grandparent, graduating from a qualification or celebrating a major birthday. The thinking is the same, but the application applies to everyone rather than only a cross-section of workers.

A fairer approach

The move to this new Life Event benefit did not happen overnight. It was part of a process we went through to assess our benefits and policies to make sure that they did not favour one group over another. If term time leave was offered, for example, it should be applied to all employees and not just parents affected by school terms. If part-time work was to be made available, it should be made available to everyone. Where benefits were offered specifically to support parents, for example time off over exam periods or to support with childcare, the time was taken to ensure there were equal and adequate alternatives. 

Parent-centric measures Universal measures
First School Day Parental Leave Life Event Leave
Childcare Support Carer support (to include Eldercare)
Parental part-time work Universal part-time offer
Flexibility around parents’ working hours Universal flexibility on working hours


In practice, how a company draws a judgement line under its benefits with a view to balancing things out will depend on the nature and make-up of its workforce, the nuances of its operating model and obviously the confines of employment law.

No two companies will draw the same conclusions, but every company can take the time to sit back, assess what they have in place and decide if things can be fairer.

In partnership with Personal Group

Personal Group provides the latest employee benefits and wellbeing products.

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