Jersey families struggling to achieve work/life balance, report finds

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The Jersey Child Care Trust’s working parent survey has lifted the lid on how parents feel about various aspects of family life. It is believed to be the first time that such a survey has been conducted in Jersey and the findings reveal significant concerns about achieving a satisfactory balance, especially among parents who have moved to the Island and have not got the support of extended family.

More than 700 parents, 94 per cent of whom were mothers, responded to the survey, with almost half of those revealing that they had no such help.

The trust commissioned the survey after a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, at which it became apparent that there was insufficient information available about the issues facing parents and insufficient data about how parents felt.

The main findings were:

*31% of respondents worked in financial services, with the education (13%) and health (11%) sectors providing the next two largest categories of respondents.

*49% of respondents have no extended family support in the Island.

*48% say that more flexibility from their employer would help them meet their work and family needs.

*64% would like more money to afford a childcare option.

*Respondents gave their employers an average score of 3.5 out of five for approachability.

*Generally, employers were seen to be supportive of parents taking time off when their children were sick, or if they had appointments.

The survey also revealed that many respondents said that they found some colleagues who did not have children made ‘resentful or derogatory’ comments when they had to have time off for reasons associated with their family.

And a few parents criticised the States employment terms, saying that they were not family-friendly enough.

Responding to the claim, a States spokesperson said: ‘The States of Jersey has a number of policies that are intended to be family-friendly – we do not have a “working parents” policy, as such. Our policies include parental leave policies (maternity, paternity and adoption), flexible working (the right to request flexible working arrangements), flexitime, career break and special leave. All of our policies are agreed and reviewed in consultation with Trades Union representatives.’

A spokesperson for the Jersey Child Care Trust said: ‘These results show how Island life can create some challenges, with almost half of respondents not having any extended family support. Greater flexibility from employers could help to alleviate some of these issues.

‘Although there were more respondents who did have an approachable employer, 21 per cent have a very or quite unapproachable employer.

‘That, coupled with respondents’ reports of high childcare costs and lack of flexibility of childcare providers, is an area that the JCCT will focus upon, with others, in the future.’

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