How UAE is making workplaces child friendly, encouraging work-life balance

Parent-friendly workplaces deliver benefits to a wide range of stakeholders, including organisations, families and especially young children


Angel Tesorero

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Sayed Al Assaad with his daughter (KT Photo: Angel Tesorero)
Sayed Al Assaad with his daughter (KT Photo: Angel Tesorero)

Published: Tue 30 Apr 2024, 6:54 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 Apr 2024, 10:28 PM

Having parent-friendly policies at workplaces not only enhances employee retention and brand reputation but also benefits children of working parents and the wider society.

This was highlighted by the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) with the release of its report on Tuesday on the ‘The Future of Work: The Rise of Parent-friendly Workplaces in the UAE’.

The groundbreaking report includes valuable findings from a wide-ranging study of 75 organisations across 23 industries and almost 10,000 responses to employee surveys.

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According to ECA, “parent-friendly workplaces are organisations that offer policies, practices and a culture that supports working parents. Examples of this include offering flexibility, listening to and understanding the needs of families, welcoming back new parents actively, offering special considerations for difficult circumstances such as a child illness or emergency, supporting the overall well-being of employees and their families and exceeding local legal requirements when it comes to parental leave days.”

The emphasis of the report – culled from a study of 75 organisations across 23 industries and more than 10,000 responses to employee surveys – is to “enable working parents to flourish at work and at home".

Sayed Al Assaad, who is in his mid 40s, is grateful that he can regularly bring his three-year-old daughter to work. “We have a playroom area, where my daughter can play while I attend meetings next door,” he told Khaleej Times, adding: “The place (for kids) is not exactly a nursery but an integral part of our workplace.”

His company, Nabta Health, which is based in Dubai, is one of the many organisations in the UAE that have applied for and earned the Parent-friendly Label from ECA. Other parent-friendly workplaces include Nestle Middle East, LinkedIn, Mubadala Investment Group, Chalhoub Group, Visa, Houbara, Bain & Co, Novartis, Wintershall Dea, Silal, Abu Dhabi Motor Sports Management (now known as Ethara), Etihad Airways, HSBC, and Masdar.

Tappy Toes Nursery and Emirates Nature -WWF, meanwhile, earned Parent-friendly Label+.

Generating lasting change

ECA director-general Sana Mohamed Suhail, noted: “The PFL program has made great strides since its launch… The journey towards fostering parent-friendly workplaces is both a visionary pursuit and a pragmatic approach.”

Sana Mohamed Suhail
Sana Mohamed Suhail

“The integration of work and family life is not merely an aspiration but a vibrant reality, giving priority to parents and their children and generating lasting change for the benefit of everyone,” she added, noting: “Nearly half of the organisations that applied to participate in the first cycle of the UAE-wide PFL program reported that they have proactively started to improve their policies or are seriously considering making these changes as part of their participation in the program.”

Key highlights

Parent-friendly workplaces deliver benefits to a wide range of stakeholders, including organisations, families and especially young children and communities. Employees in parent-friendly workplaces are nine times more likely to not only recommend their employers, but also actively advocate for them, noted the ECA report.

In terms of retaining employees, the report highlighted a finding that revealed 40 per cent of employees surveyed had left their job or begun to look for a new one in search for better flexibility, and 20 per cent had done so for better work life balance.

The reported added 71 per cent of respondents would consider flexible work options as an incentive to stay with their current employer.

A parent-friendly workplace contributes to better corporate performance, with highly engaged workforce resulting in 23 per cent higher profitability, according to the report.

Be creative and innovative

Omar Alkhan, head of Centre for Business Studies & Research at Dubai Chamber of Commerce, encouraged employers to be creative and innovate in transforming their companies into child-friendly workplaces.

“Some employer can provide more benefits, including training, mentoring, health care. There are multiple ways for employee retention and not just financial remuneration. Implementing parent and child friendly workplaces benefit not only current parents but employees who are singles as well, as there will already be a system in place when they too become working parents,” he added.

Omar Alkhan
Omar Alkhan

Huda Al Hashimi, Deputy Minister of the Cabinet Affairs for Strategic Affairs, also underscored “having parent-friendly workplaces is fundamental. It about having work-life balance for the current and future generations.”

Huda Al Hashimi
Huda Al Hashimi


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