Family-friendly Policies in the Workplace
The current situation, needs and recommendations for China
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There is a growing consensus among governments, private and public sector agencies, and community leaders about the need to invest in a care economy that is supportive of the needs of young working families. The need for family-friendly policies is increasingly recognized as being essential to ensure parents and families have adequate resources, services and finances to care for their infants and young children, simultaneously contributing to their overall productivity and skills improvement. Many of the policies aimed at reconciling the work and family life of workers are enshrined in the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions with key stipulations on parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and non-discrimination in the workplace. These policies have also been integrated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 5.4 on valuing, and supporting unpaid care and domestic work, and in SDG 8.5 on achieving productive employment and decent work.
In order to initiate change and develop recommendations for strengthening family-friendly workplace practices in China, UNICEF supported this exploratory research to document the current status of implementation of family-friendly policies in selected industries in China. The research focused on three key dimensions related to family-friendly workplaces: time, services and finances. Referencing national survey data from 2019, an analysis of the childcare situation of children aged 0-2 years was conducted, along with an assessment of relevant childcare policies and practices. Field interviews with eight businesses were carried out to better understand existing family-friendly practices in the workplace, as well as the relevant issues and challenges in the implementation of current policies.
The findings of this research serve as a starting point to understand the varying needs of working parents and families, expand government policies related to family-friendly workplaces, and support businesses to improve their implementation. In addition, the research findings can serve as a valuable case study for the introduction, implementation and improvement of family-friendly policies globally.