SCHOOL'S OUT: Framework for the Development of Out-of-School Care
Work-life balance toolkit
While we are responsible for childcare, the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) is responsible for the balance between people's work life and home life (work-life balance).
The DTI's work-life balance campaign, launched in 2000, aims to persuade employers of the economic benefits of work-life balance and to convince them of the need for change. The campaign focuses on tackling the long hours people work; targeting sectors that have serious work-life balance problems; and providing support and guidance.
In July 2002, DTI, with our support and the support of the Scotland Office, published a work-life balance toolkit for childcare partnerships in Scotland (see www.dti.gov.uk/work-lifebalance). The toolkit is designed to help childcare partnerships in Scotland involve local employers in the childcare debate. It also suggests practical ways in which partnerships can tackle this, and gives examples of good practice of what other partnerships have done.
South Lanarkshire Council has produced a guide for employers on family-friendly options that has been circulated to local employers. It contains useful information on the business case for work-life balance, flexible working practices, family-leave policies and legal issues.
James Watt college in Greenock operates a childcare voucher scheme. Staff members can have part of their salary paid each month in the form of childcare vouchers which are issued in the name of the carer. Vouchers are exempt from National Insurance. This results in a saving to the member of staff of about 9% on the value of the voucher. For example, if a member of staff takes £500 of his or her salary in childcare vouchers, that member of staff will save about £45 in NI contributions so long as the total salary is under a threshold.
Those people earning a higher salary might not make a saving.
Employers' role in OSC
We are not aware of many employers providing OSC or paying for places in OSC for their employees. However, the toolkit suggests that an employer could pay for a certain number of OSC places each year, and in return, the childcare partnership can call the local paper and organise press coverage. This would help employers to keep staff and to reduce the need for recruiting staff. It would also raise the profile of the company in the community and contribute to their image as an employer of choice.
A few years ago, the electrical manufacturer, Norfrost, helped a club in Castletown with its set-up costs. Since then, the company has continued to pay fees for any of their workers' children who go to the club. The workforce is the same now, so the children are older and do not need the OSC service.
Local Enterprise Companies (LECs) also have a role in working with employers to promote employer involvement in childcare. Some LECs are in the early stages of working with employers.
In November 2002, we held a successful seminar for childcare partnerships and local enterprise companies in Perth. In 2003 we plan to hold a similar event for employers, Chambers of Commerce and other interested organisations.