Home News & eventsNews Working Families Announces Winners of 2019 Best Practice Awards

Working Families Announces Winners of 2019 Best Practice Awards

Published: 20 Jun 2019

Awards recognise employers leading the way in flexible and employee-friendly workplaces  

  • This year’s awards saw a record number of entries, showing the appetite and engagement surrounding flexibility and worklife balance. 
  • The newest category—Best for Mental Health & Wellbeing—was also the most popular, demonstrating employers’ increasing focus on these important issues. 
  • Winners are all working toward establishing supportive workplace cultures as well as family-friendly policies.  

Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: 

“Our research shows that while 86% of parents in the UK want to work flexibly, less than half actually do. [1] To close this gap, we need employers to step up, to innovate, and to create policies, practices, and cultures that work for people and work for the business.  Today’s winners are doing just that: taking creative approaches to embedding flexibility, building supportive cultures, and listening to and learning from their employees.” 

For the first time this year, Working Families presented a Best for Mental Health & Wellbeing Award, sponsored by Schroders.   

Now in their 10th year, the Working Families Best Practice Awards [2] recognise achievements in 12 categories across a range of worklife policies and practices.   


Best for Mothers 

WINNER – Barclays   

Offering enhanced maternity pay available from ‘day one’, support for employees undergoing fertility treatment, mandatory training for managers, a Parenting Portal, coaching and flexible working mean 90 per cent of mothers return after having their baby.

Best for Fathers    

WINNER – Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield   

Support for fathers with four weeks fully paid paternity leave which can be taken flexibly and is available from day one of employment.  Enhanced shared parental pay of three months at full pay and three months at half pay was taken up by 31% of eligible fathers in 2018. All formal flexible working requests from men approved.  

COMMENDED – Deloitte

Best for Carers & Eldercare

WINNER – Centrica   

Employees can take 10 days of paid carers leave, in addition to the ability to take a further 10 days, if each one is matched by a day from their annual leave allowance. There is a ‘carers declaration’ within the HR system to enable the company to understand more about the growing number of carers and their specific support needs across locations. It also helps employees explain their situation when their line manager changes. Huge savings in the cost of unplanned absence has been reported due partly to support for those with caring responsibilities.

Best Flexible Working Initiative – sponsored by NHS Employers 

WINNER – MHA Larking Gowen    

Encouraging flexible hours and remote working from home or client offices along with an office redesign to create quiet space, hot desks and collaborative space has increased chargeable time while reducing sickness and absenteeism, staff turnover and costly overtime.

Best for Embedded Flexibility – sponsored by Arnold Clark 

WINNER – Morgan Sindall  Construction & Infrastructure 

Incorporating greater flexibility to job roles and regularly communicating the benefits of flexible working to staff means more than 60% of employees now work flexibly, and job applications have increased by 38%. 

COMMENDED – Deloitte

Best for Flexible Recruitment

WINNER – Arnold Clark   

Switching to a five-day working week (previously six) and using social media to showcase flexible work patterns of a diverse range of employees, including parents who’ve been promoted, has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of women recruited. They are also receiving high quality applicants who may not have considered a role in the industry before their flexible working initiatives were introduced.

Best Small Private Sector Employer

WINNER – Response IT   

Open to flexibility from day one and discuss changes to working patterns at any time, the company finds solutions to keep talent while still meeting customer service level agreements. Employee turnover is very low and the business continues to grow. 

Best for Line Manager Support

WINNER – Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield   

Provide a comprehensive range of measures to ensure that line managers are supported and supportive, including one to one guidance from HR, guides and checklists, and mandatory training in supporting employees transitioning into caring, job design, and how to manage flexible workers.

Best Innovation – sponsored by ILF Scotland 

WINNER – Waltham Forest Council   

Extended maternity and paternity leave with full pay is offered to employees who have a baby born prematurely – before 37 weeks – for the time the baby is in hospital up to the original due date. 

Best Returner Programme – sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada 

WINNER – Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure 

A successful returnship programme aimed at all genders, all ages and all levels of discipline, which is discovering and developing skilled male and female employees for roles that usually suffer from a shortage of good candidates. Featuring a phased returner programme (starting part-time) each permanent role offers flexibility and a range of ongoing support. 

Best Family Network

WINNER – Royal Bank of Scotland   

A global Families and Carers Network with 1250 members – including 250 members of a new Fertility and Loss group – offer peer support, including attending meetings with employees and line managers to ensure discretionary policies are applied consistently. 

Best for Mental Health & Wellbeing – sponsored by Schroders 

WINNER – Financial Ombudsman Service   

A wide range of activities and communications to de-stigmatise mental health, with mental health first aiders, ‘boosting resilience sessions’ and tips on how to start a conversation about mental health has helped to drive down sickness absence rates. 

For more information and/or to be put in touch with winners directly, contact Catherine Gregory on 07841 009 099 or email press@workingfamilies.org.uk 


Notes to editors 

[1] Figure from the 2019 Modern Families Index.

[2] Working Families Best Practice Awards 2019  

Organisations were shortlisted in 12 categories in the Working Families Best Practice Awards 2019.  See the shortlisted organisations

The winners were announced at a ceremony on 20 June at Vintners’ Hall, London.  

[3] Case studies of the award winners are available here https://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/case-studies (search for ‘2019’) 

Judging Panel 

The judging process for the Best Practice Awards is anonymous; none of the judges know the identity of the companies they are judging.  

Read more about the judges for 2019.  


Arnold Clark – sponsor of the Best for Embedded Flexibility award 

ILF Scotland – sponsor of the Best Innovation award 

NHS Employers – sponsor of the Best Flexible working Initiative award 

Royal Bank of Canada – sponsor of the Best Returner Programme award 

Schroders – sponsor of the Best for Mental Health & Wellbeing award 

Media Partner – HR Magazine

About Working Families 

Working Families is the UK’s work-life balance organisation. We help working parents and carers—and their employers—find a better balance between responsibilities at home and in the workplace. 

We provide free legal advice to parents and carers on their rights at work. We give employers the tools they need to support their employees while creating a flexible, high-performing workforce. And we advocate on behalf of the UK’s 13 million working parents, influencing policy through campaigns informed by ground-breaking research. Learn more at workingfamilies.org.uk.