Families and parents

Family in waiting room

Flexible working can be essential in attracting and retaining new candidates to your organisation, particularly working parents. There are a variety of flexible working options that may be helpful in supporting parents to get into work and helping those already in your organisation to stay in work. 

Did you know? 

  • There are a number of ways employers can accommodate employees’ circumstances. Take a look at NHS Employers A-Z of flexible working to understand more about what you can offer as an employer. 
  • Every individual has the right to request flexible working hours, but this doesn’t apply to those looking for work. Read our FAQs to get up to date on flexible working.  
  • Parents are entitled to take parental leave for the care of an ill child, or request parental leave if they have worked for their employer for more than 26 weeks.


  • Look to local organisations, community spaces and other local places that are already engaging with parents and families. These organisations could connect you with potential candidates for your roles.   
  • Advertise in places parents and families may go such as nurseries, schools and community centres. These could be effective places to advertise your roles.
  • Highlight, and clearly showcase, the flexible working options you are able to offer.


  • Offer flexibility in interview times, such as early mornings or later in the day to accommodate for any time-sensitive responsibilities the candidate may have. 
  • Include a named contact with email address, name and phone number. This will give candidates a contact to approach with any questions about their personal circumstances prior to applying.
  • Offer support with childcare through the application and interview process where possible, for example, childcare vouchers or on-site nursery care.


  • Ensure you’re fully aware of the policies relating to flexible working and how to apply them to both new starters and staff in post.
  • Make sure you understand how to deal with requests for shared parental leave, which was introduced by the government in 2015.
  • Encourage a culture that is inclusive of those with dependants and caring responsibilities, and positively champion flexible working.
  • Consider if you could offer mirrored rostering if your trust employs two people sharing responsibility for a child or children. This would allow them greater flexibilities in sharing childcare. 
  • Offering a variety of options around returning to work and staying in employment is crucial to retaining your current and future workforce. Read more about flexible retirement options which may suit someone with family or caring responsibilities. BT found the return-to-work rate for employees after maternity leave increased to 99 per cent following the implementation of flexible working policies. Read more about BT’s flexible working strategy

Further reading 

Read more on the challenges lone parents face when seeking work in this report published by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.
Choices and Barriers Faced by Lone Parents in Accessing Employment and Learning, 2007/8

Read a study of the relative importance of the various choices and constraints faced by lone parents in Wales, and their comprehensive list of the barriers faced by lone parents who wish to access work or learning.
See Potential  Access See Potential’s top tips on employing single parents, by implementing simple flexible working arrangements, which can make a huge difference to enabling working parents to stay in work and perform the best they can in their current roles.
Working Families Working Families has created a large suite of resources giving employers a variety of helpful guidelines and tools and resources to better support recruiting and retaining single and working parents. Some of these are available free of charge.
Gingerbread  Gingerbread provides an array of materials for both employers and working parents/single parents.

Take a look at other community groups you may want to include in your inclusive recruitment practice. 

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