A number of very able, highly educated women whom I know are not working, just because they are not in a position to leave their kids somewhere during the time they are out for work. Reasons are many: there is no good nursery nearby; time taken to commute between home, nursery and office; unable to be punctual at all of the places, resulting in completely different, but equally catastrophic outcomes. In a nutshell, a number of various, valid reasons force these women to be a full-time mum-at-home. [Now, I am not saying that being a full-time mom-at-home is a bad thing at all; given chance and circumstances agree, I myself would love to be a full-time dad-at-home.]
Just think of the contribution these women could provide to our society if they could work without being anxious of their children’s care during the time when she is at work?
Even for working parents, the story is not very different. There are many worries for a mother (for father too): Who will take care of her kids when she is at work? How competent and honest the child carer is? Will it be possible for him/her to leave early enough the office so that he/she can reach the pre-school in time to collect the kid(s)? If late, how real is the threat of getting reported to social care?
Majority of above questions of anxious mothers could be answered, by a single solution – an office crèche. By this, I mean a crèche opened in the business premises itself. If space is an issue, as a temporary measure, the businesses could reach tie-ups with nearest crèche. The businesses only have to take care of the high level responsibility of the crèche; day-2-day running of the crèche could be outsourced to any respectable pre-school / crèche / nurseries.
I still fondly remember the crèche operated by Department of Telecommunications in a small town in India, where my parents worked in 1970s. In my younger days, I was a very regular visitor, and I enjoyed my time there. I still remember the faces of aayaas (child minders) at that crèche. If a developing (in fact a third-world country in 70s) country could do this 40 years ago, why cannot it be implemented in UK of modern times?
Why should spend the businesses money on crèche?
- The young mothers spsend most of her daytime in the office; even though one argue she is getting paid for it, can whatever wage paid compensate for youth and motherhood? Of course not! So this is a small expenditure for the business in return for the daytime of a mother’s time with her kid.
- Worker or employee is the most key resource for any business / organisation. It is well-known that happy employees produce far better output than their unhappy counterparts.
- Workplace crèche arrangement will not only help the businesses to become more productive, but also help the national economy by generating more jobs in the childcare arena.
To start with, the Government should put in a policy to all medium to large enterprises to provide for crèche at workplace, wherever possible. Government could even assist the businesses by giving tax-breaks for those organisations who keep aside a portion of their profits towards their employee’s requirements.
There could be various difficulties and issues to say “No” to this proposal. But there will be only one, simple, straightforward reason for the businesses to say “Yes” – that they are serious about the well-being of their employees and their families.