For societies and economies to thrive, countries and businesses need to support workers as families and parents, through family-friendly policies, as they carry and raise children from pregnancy to school age. Family-friendly policies are defined as those policies that help to balance and benefit both work and family life that typically provide three types of essential resources needed by parents and caregivers of young children: time, resources and services. Mutual investment by families, businesses and the State in this critical phase of the early years of life lays the foundation for children’s success in school, adults’ success at work, the ability of children and families to exit poverty, and the attainment of lifelong health.
In 2018, 75 per cent of men and 48 per cent of women were employed or looking for work. Many more women work in the uncounted informal sector, trading, waste picking, hawking or doing unpaid care work at home. This work keeps them busy at, or away from, home. For the majority of parents all over the world – both fathers and mothers – employment policies, covering both the formal and informal sector and conditions at work, greatly impact the wellbeing of their families. This is especially the case for workers in vulnerable situations and low-income families, where children may be at particular risk of being deprived of basic rights and access to essential services. Better care for young children, enabled by supportive conditions at work, is not only in the interest of young children and families, but also yields benefits for businesses across a number of indicators of workers’ productivity, earnings, gender equality, business growth, brand equity, talent recruitment and retention, and improved employee health, engagement and morale. These policies are also significant for improved equitable social and economic growth in countries.