British Army – Finalist 2023, Best for Mothers
The British Army has implemented a range of innovative measures that are sensitive to the unique and challenging needs of mothers working for the organisation, demonstrating their commitment to increasing the number of women in the Army through effecting cultural and policy change.
Becoming a mother in the British Army can mean the transition to a new stage of work life requires more input than other organisations. Expectant mothers are equipped with information detailing what can be expected at work as well as the maternity package offer of six months full pay and guidance on Shared Parental Leave and the ability to transfer leave between partners in the organisation. Line managers are guided through facilitating the transition. Phased returns, including part-time hours are possible. The need for some stability is reflected in a new policy which permits mothers returning to work after maternity leave to choose their preferred location to access support with childcare. Additionally, a new policy will not allow two individuals with responsibility for a child to be sent abroad at the same time without board-level sign off. Due to an enhanced IT role out, working from home is available to many more personnel, enabling much more flexibility and alternative work patterns.
The British Army’s initiatives aim to put the child-experience front and centre from the time that mothers return to work. Breastfeeding support is offered with dedicated areas and facilities to accommodate this. The Children’s Education Advisory Service is dedicated to giving support around educational well-being. Given the highly transient workforce, support with school admissions and appeals is particularly useful. Advice and guidance are available for children with special educational needs, in particular to help parents navigate the potential challenges in changing local authority when a child has an Education and Health Care Plan. Families can utilise a Continuity of Education Allowance to access funding for boarding school to give the child some consistency when the parents are moving around the globe frequently. Free wrap-around childcare has been introduced which has proved highly successful in facilitating flexibility and improving retention.
Power in connection
Mothers can access peer support as well as professional advice and signposting via a number of networks including the breastfeeding, child bereavement and fertility networks. The Breastfeeding Network has over 60 trained peer supporters alongside a pharmacist to advise on medication-related queries. The Child Bereavement Network helps individuals and their families by offering connection with families with lived experience, and self-care packages for parents during this emotionally turbulent time. The Fertility Network exists to provide individuals who are considering, are on, or have been on a fertility journey, a welcoming confidential support group.