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Balancing Work and Family Commitments During the Pandemic: ‘Canada’s Top Family-Friendly Employers’ for 2021 are Announced


TORONTOFeb. 11, 2021 /CNW/ – While the pandemic has taken a heavy toll in terms of health and economic losses, nearly every Canadian parent will also tell you that it’s exacted a terrible cost when it comes to balancing work and family commitments.  Fortunately, many of the nation’s most progressive employers have responded with special programs to help employees navigate this period, providing extra flexibility to alleviate the demands of childcare, elder care and the heightened levels of stress and anxiety resulting from the pandemic.  The best of these stories were recognized today, as Canada’s Top Family-Friendly Employers for 2021 were announced by Mediacorp Canada Inc., organizers of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project.

“The pandemic has been challenging for working parents, particularly those with younger children” says Richard Yerema, Managing Editor of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. “Home is now an amalgamation of workplace and school and, simultaneously, a space where employees are meant to decompress and unwind from the workday. The employers chosen for this year’s list already have strong family-friendly cultures and have been able to build on this during this period.”

Many of this year’s winners asked employees to prioritize their health and well-being – and that of their families – ahead of their work, in some cases reassigning resources to help share workloads. This year’s winners also went out of their way to create support networks to ensure employees stayed connected, with some even providing support to employees’ children through virtual summer camps in 2020.  Many created dedicated online wellness programs focused on maintaining physical, mental and financial well-being during the pandemic.

“The term ‘family-friendly’ has become more inclusive in the past few years,” adds Kristina Leung, Senior Editor of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. “Employers are becoming better at ensuring their policies include all family types, with more addressing topics such as fertility and adoption.”

Some of the initiatives singled out by the editors include:

  • Novo Nordisk Canada expanded its maternity and parental leave policy to include all new parents, providing 100 per cent salary top-up for up to 21 weeks. The company’s flexible work policy now includes a ‘core hours’ policy, requiring meetings to be scheduled between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to accommodate staff with family commitments or varied work schedules.

  • KPMG LLP offers employees a generous adoption subsidy (to $20,000) and supports new moms with maternity leave top-up payments (to 100 per cent of salary for 17 weeks). The firm also maintains in-house employee networks for parents with young children, as well as parents of children with special physical, emotional or behavioral needs.

  • Canada Energy Regulator helps its staff balance their commitments outside work through several in-house policies, including flexible work hours, up to five paid family leave days per year (for family appointments and related responsibilities), and up to 15 paid sick days annually.

  • Along with onsite childcare, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, offers a variety of flexible working arrangements to help employees balance personal and professional commitments, including telecommuting, shortened work weeks (fewer hours, less pay), and a formalized ‘earned days-off’ program.

  • St. John’s-based Verafin Inc. maintains a results-focused work environment, allowing employees to work when and where they are most productive. This flexible approach also applies to paid sick leave, personal days and compassionate leave – the company has no pre-set limits for any of these benefits, leaving it up to each employee.

  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation / CMHC offers extensive family-friendly benefits, ranging from generous IVF subsidies (to $20,000) to maternity and parental leave top-up for new mothers and fathers (including adoptive parents).

To be considered for this competition, the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers evaluated each employer in terms of the programs and initiatives they offered to help employees balance work and family commitments. The competition looks at a wide range of HR practices, such as: maternity and parental leave; daycare assistance; paid personal- and ‘earned-days-off’ programs; flexible work arrangements; compassionate leave and elder care assistance; adoption assistance; reproductive assistance, including fertility drugs and IVF; and even academic bursaries for employees’ children. In addition, the editors reviewed other programs that employers offered to address work-life balance issues particular to their industry.

Founded in 1992, Mediacorp Canada Inc. is the nation’s largest publisher of employment periodicals. Since 1999, the Toronto-based publisher has managed the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, which includes 18 regional and special-interest editorial competitions that reach over 15 million Canadians annually through a variety of magazine and newspaper partners. Mediacorp also operates, one of Canada’s largest job search engines, which reaches millions of unique visitors annually and features editorial reviews from the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. The company also publishes The Career Directory, now in its 28th year – a free online guide for recent college and university graduates looking for employers hiring candidates from their educational background.

The full list of Canada’s Top Family-Friendly Employers for 2021 was announced this morning. Detailed reasons for selection, with additional stories and photos, were released this morning and are accessible via the competition homepage:

SOURCE Mediacorp Canada Inc.

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