We spoke to Moira Campbell a Senior Associate employment lawyer at Kingsley Napley LLP, an internationally recognised law firm based in central London. The firm has always stood out as a particularly parent friendly company to work at and we loved hearing more about their support of working families. Moira told us all about how the firm has been adjusting to working life post pandemic.
At Kingsley Napley, our response to the current crisis has been to offer flexibility to parents and carers. Early in the pandemic, our management team and Parents and Carers Network (‘KNFamilies’) started a continuous consultation to accommodate colleagues’ particular needs and circumstances. Working parents and carers were offered a combination of solutions to their working hours, such as split shifts, varied hours, holiday, unpaid leave, reduced hours or furlough and flexible furlough. We also made sure that everyone knew the wide range of wellbeing support available to them.
Our HR team provided multiple resources to parents including ‘top picks’ for articles and blogs and online webinar resources. Conscious of the additional burden to families of home schooling and the lack of childcare, we extended our wellness subsidy to include support for dependents, such as ad hoc childcare, online tutoring classes and devices. We also have additional wellness resources and benefits available to all staff, including coaching for those on parental or adoption leave.
In terms of our current response to the changing situation, we have implemented agile working guidelines for everyone. This will give working parents and carers the freedom to make sensible choices and adapt their working arrangements to balance their personal and professional commitments.
At Kingsley Napley, our policies are constantly reviewed to make sure they give people the support they require. This year we became one of the first firms to introduce a Pregnancy Loss Policy to help people going through this and who need additional support.
We also offer shared parental leave to employees and match the pay offered to those on maternity leave.
Our KNFamilies group has numerous initiatives in place to expand our support for working parents. For example, we are hosting a coffee morning for working parents and carers to discuss the transition to returning to the office and hybrid working.
Finally, we recently moved to a new office which includes facilities such as a wellness room, personal wellbeing room (which is designed to accommodate nursing mothers on their return to work), gym and café. Having all these facilities in place will enable time-poor working parents to take a moment during the busy office-based working day to rest or exercise.
Flexibility is key! Without a doubt working parents need flexibility in the workplace as well as the right childcare options and a strong support network. However, we’ve found that the biggest challenge is often being able to find more time to look after themselves and ensure their own needs are met. That’s why having a supportive employer can make such a difference.
Be flexible towards, and trust, your working parents! Only then will they truly be able - and motivated to - give their very best. They are spending time away from their children in order to be at work and so it is a given that work is important to them and they want it to be both worthwhile and productive.
Employers should judge people (and train managers to do so too) based on outcomes and delivery, rather than their perceived presence in the (virtual or actual) workplace. Plus, it must be emphasised that wanting flexibility does NOT demonstrate a lack of commitment to one’s job and managers must be trained to understand and accept that.
We are embracing hybrid. Our agile working guidelines and state of the art offices enable us to work in a truly hybrid model. Our technology has been designed to enable staff to work and communicate fully from home. For example, we have installed AV in meeting rooms, workspaces and the gym to enable hybrid meetings and exercise classes. Staff have been provided with equipment to work from home. We encourage everyone to spend around on average 40 – 60% of their working week in the office. It’s a learning process for us and we are continually consulting with all our staff and stakeholders to review and refine our hybrid working model.
With two young children, I am only at the start of my journey as a working parent, and I can already see that the pressures on working parents change as their children grow up. That’s why I am trying to be adaptable and flexible in my approach to work and use the range of technology to be as productive as possible. Organisation and teamwork are also crucial. My husband and I need to work together to make sure we have childcare so that we can attend the events we need and want to, and that we can spend precious time with our family.
I would love to say to other working parents: believe in yourself! You are more organised, productive and resourceful than ever before.
Kingsley Napley LLP is an internationally recognised law firm based in central London. Their wide range of expertise provides support for clients in all areas of business and private life. Many of KN’s lawyers are leaders in their field and their practice areas are highly ranked by the legal directories.
Moira acts for employers and employees across the full range of employment law and has a special interest in diversity, inclusion and equality issues. Moira is the mother of two young children and founded (and chairs) Kingsley Napley’s parents and carers network upon returning to work after her first maternity leave.