Case study: University of the West of Scotland.

University of the West of Scotland (UWS) wants employees to feel valued and believes that family friendly working gets the best out of people.

The main objective of family friendly policies is to retain key skills, improve motivation and morale and increase productivity. Productivity is estimated to have increased by 15-20 per cent after embedding a culture of family friendly working.

All statutory provisions are enhanced in relation to family friendly policies, including pay. Flexible working is now a day-one right. The majority of the senior team work flexibly. UWS demonstrates its commitment to family friendly working through an Athena Swan submission (the Charter committed to advancing the careers of women within higher education and research).

UWS is keen to remove barriers for career development and progression. An innovative ‘Returners Scheme’ supports employees who have had six-months or more family leave by providing their department with up to £10,000 so that on return, work is research-focused, allowing their substantive role to be backfilled and smooth reintegration into the workplace. Training initiatives on flexible working have been received positively and support is provided to managers.

A new ‘Carers Scheme’ allows employees to apply for funding to support the additional cost of care should they require to go to a conference or event. Plans for the future include setting up a network for carers.

Illuminating Ideas

  • New mothers are given three maternity pay options to suit their financial circumstances.
  • A ‘Returners Scheme’ funds departments up to £10,000 to enable the returner to focus on
  • research which enables a smooth reintegration back to work.
  • Flexible working is often trialled, resulting in the majority of requests being approved.
  • A ‘Carer’s Scheme’ funds additional caring costs if attending an event.
  • Employee focus groups provide invaluable information i.e. the preference for 70 per cent of flexible working requests is compressed hours.

The Judges’ Spotlight

“UWS understands the importance of retaining specialist skills and focuses on all employees as individuals. In particular, UWS has fantastic support in place for parents and supports career progression in a variety of practical ways. It has strong measurables around the impact of their family friendly working and has a very creative maternity model.”

‘My mum (who has Alzheimer’s) lives far away and it was difficult for me to work full time and care for her. Working flexibly enables me to work longer days and accrue time to help with her care. My managers have been fully supportive.’

– University Employee

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