Should parents get more leave for school holidays? One engineering company is testing if school-term-only contracts could lead to better work-life balance for parents.
Engineering company AECOM has announced plans for a new type of working contract giving employees 12 weeks leave a year so they can spend every school holiday with their children.
The program is being launched in partnership with the FlexCareers organisation. The new term-time contracts will be available to anyone responsible for school-aged children including foster-carers and grandparents.
While AECOM hopes that men will take the opportunity to spend the holidays with their children, where AECOM hope to make the biggest impact is encouraging women who might have given up on a career in engineering to come back and give it another chance.
“There is a significant pool of talent who have stepped away from our industry because they were unable to nurture their families and their careers at the same time,” said AECOM Chief Executive for Australia and New Zealand Todd Battley.
“That no longer has to be the case. By working with FlexCareers, on what we believe to be an industry first, we will be able to target an extensive network of parents and guardians who are seeking flexibility to manage childcare responsibilities.”
AECOM’s Human Resources Director for ANZ Helen Fraser said she regularly speaks with women who discuss the challenges school holidays bring and she believes there is no doubt that many stop working because it is just too hard to manage the 12 weeks of school holidays each year.
“This arrangement will take that worry away for people,” she said.
“Piloting the term-time contracts with up to 20 roles across Australia and New Zealand initially gives AECOM 12 months to test and refine it with our clients, our people and professional women.”
Engineers Australia National President Trish White said childcare is an issue for a lot of parents. “It’s the costs surrounding it, it’s the availability that really do influence those decisions,” said White.
“I think it’s smart business sense for companies to look at other ways to make themselves more attractive employers and attractive workplaces.”