Scottish Parliament, Commended 2015, The Cityfathers Best for all Stages of Fatherhood Award

The Scottish Parliament wants to play its part, as a public sector employer, in embracing change in parenting and giving fathers a voice, because it believes that society can only change and make parenting a more equal partnership if employers make their contribution through how they promote their policies on maternity, paternity and adoption and make sure these are inclusive of men and women. The Scottish Parliament has a long history as a ‘family-friendly’ organisation and has shown real commitment to achieving this culture. Just over 94% of staff agreed in a survey (2013) that they work for an inclusive organisation that supports and values diversity in the workplace. In 2011, the organisation made the decision to go beyond the statutory requirement and gave the right to request flexible working to all staff.  As the median age of the workforce is 44, the Scottish Parliament recognises that many staff will have family and other caring responsibilities, so employees have been allowed to take on different working patterns, for example compressed hours and home working, to support their caring roles.

The Scottish Parliament has shown commitment to the role of fathers from the very top: its Chief Executive works flexibly to help meet his family commitments; its Assistant Chief Executive has also been a carer and has taken time off to care for an elderly dependent; many of the men in the organisation’s Leadership Group work from home and one of the team works compressed hours to help with childcare commitments.

In the Scottish Parliament, fathers are seen as equally important from before the birth of their child through to when they return to work. The maternity mentoring programme is open to men who wish to take extended leave and there are male mentors to support any men planning to take an extended period of time off. The Scottish Parliament was the first organisation in Scotland to be accredited for this scheme. In a move led by a father, a new part-time virtual network has been set up. This is owned by the staff but is supported by HR and gives fathers the opportunity to influence any internal policies that might affect them.

Already, the Scottish Parliament’s shared parental leave policy mirrors its maternity provision, which offers up to six months off on full pay. Fathers are entitled to attend antenatal appointments (which are paid); they can use a crèche and a parenting room in the parliament building; and also make use of childcare vouchers. In addition, they are supported to have a phased return to work to help them settle back in gradually.

Staff have been offered the choice of a PC or a laptop, which means fathers can now easily access the server outside the office and have the flexibility to work from home.

The Scottish Parliament’s approach to fathers has had an impact on mothers and shows that caring responsibilities are becoming more equally shared. The organisation is finding that women coming back to work change to different working patterns but are working longer part-time hours than before, indicating that they are sharing childcare with their partners.