A couple of months ago we reported that the government was making funds available for companies wishing to push forward work-life balance policies. The money would be used to fund consultants to work on projects to improve flexible working practices.
Margaret Hodge, Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities invited employers from all industry sectors to bid for a share of the £81.5m Work-Life Balance Challenge Fund. Yesterday she announced the names of sixty-nine organisations as the first beneficiaries of the money.
Announcing the winners, Mrs Hodge said: "These Challenge Fund winners have taken a brave step in coming forward and asking for help in identifying ways to improve their employment and working practices. They recognise that better work life balance policies bring business benefits with improved recruitment and retention and enhanced commitment. By publicising the results of the work carried out by consultants for the winners, everyone will be able tolearn. There will be another opportunity to win in the second round of increased funding early next year."
Companies who have been successful in securing the funding include a number of county councils, building societies, schools, charities, and police forces (a full list is here).
The Work-Life Balance Campaign was launched by the Prime Minister on 9 March 2000. He announced the establishment of a new partnership with Employers for Work-Life Balance, an alliance of 22 leading employers, and the publication of a discussion document outlining the Government's plans for action.
The Challenge Fund will run for three years and is open to all employers in England and Scotland. There is a separate Challenge Fund for Wales aimed at small and medium sized enterprises. In Northern Ireland the Work-Life Balance programme is funded by the Department of Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment, and managed by Business in the Community. BITC intends to launch a full range of support measures for all NI businesses on 6 December 2000. This will include a website detailing aspects of Work-Life Balance, a manual covering the design and implementation of policies and practice and a range of fact-sheets and case studies.