Sunday, 26 February 2012

How do I find out which companies have good maternity packages and after care?

"I am currently working at a Construction Consultancy firm based in England. I find I am doing a lot of traveling and my company only offers the minimum statutory maternity pay.

In the next few years I don't plan to have a child at all, but in the event that I do, do you know how I would go about finding out which firms are flexible working friendly and/or offer better maternity leave benefits? This is obviously a question I do not want to ask during interview with other companies (if this ever comes about) so I really wanted your advice if possible."
Asks a reader from the UK

This is an area that the industry is still finding its step in. We recently wrote an article for construction manager highlighting some of the issues.

In the case of being proactive in this area when looking for a job I would offer the following advice.

This shows the % of women in non support roles within each organisation. Whilst this does not tell you everything it gives you an indication of the fact that if a high number of women are working there it could employ more friendly working practices.

2. Look at the boards and senior managers - whilst not always a good indication the main reasons a company has flexible working is if it is important to board member and senior staff. So if they are reflected you are in with a better chance.

3. Network as much as possible and ask people what their working conditions are like when you do. Good employer guides can be manipulated but if you build up trust people are more likely to be honest - just don't make it the first thing you ask them!

4. Do your research company website often hold a lot of this information.

We are working very hard to change practice across industry, and whilst we have made some massive strategic strides lately I don't expect to see massive change for around 3/5 years. In the next 3 years though we are looking to develop a benchmarking platform for diversity in the built environment to provide a way for individuals to understand what a company really has to offer.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Employer Question; We recently had an employee who has come out of the closet.....

We recently had an employee who has come out of the closet. Should HR take a role to make this person feel welcome? I have heard a lot about equal rights issues and do not want to create any problems that do not exist?

Avoiding the issue can sometimes create a bigger problem. The best thing to do would be to engage with the individual and find out their needs and views. As a valued member of staff you wouldn’t want to lose them for the sake of a conversation. If you find it a difficult subject to broach or are wary of legal issues here is a wide range of support and advice available to help you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Stonewall the Lesbian, Gay and bisexual rights organisation has a wealth of in-depth resources for you to look over.

Try to remember that your sexual orientation has a much bigger affect on your life than what happens in the bed room. People who are fearful of a negative response to their choice of partner will usually feel the need to create a double life to avoid talking about the places they visit, their partners, people they socialise with and those they respect. This can be draining and stressful meaning that individuals can’t put as much focus into their work as they would like.

Also be realistic about the fact that some people are still not open to a gay or lesbian life style and there may well be circumstances that need to be dealt with sensitively. Put some guidelines in place so that everyone knows what to do if a situation occurs.

We look forward to reading your comments and questions below or via email.