A Parenting Passport is a document that records important information about a parent’s caring responsibilities and support needs, helping to create an understanding between the parent employee and their organisation.
Why is it important to support working fathers?
The document moves with the employee so they do not need to constantly re-explain their situation and support needs as they move across an organisation or change line managers.
A Parenting Passport can lead to reduced levels of disruption and anxiety in the workplace and improve staff retention and well-being. Furthermore, a Parenting Passport can help encourage a culture where employees feel supported, as well as offer consistency for how parents are treated across the organisation. Where possible, it is a good idea to have the Passport available on the company intranet, perhaps alongside different leave application forms and used alongside other elements of this toolkit, such as Parenting Groups and Fatherhood Champions.
The Parenting Passport is based upon the passport for all carers developed by Carers UK and has been adapted here for use with parents. More information on their carers passport which supports those with other caring responsibilities can be found on the Carer Passport website.
Designing your Parenting Passport
Click here to download a Word version of our template Passport, which can be adapted to suit your organisation’s needs.
The Passport can be adapted to the needs of your employees and organisation, and includes information recorded by line managers and the parent involved. This includes but is not limited to: baby’s due date, deadlines for applying for leave, employee and employer expectations, support they wish to receive and so on. Using the Parenting Passport there is no need for the parent to have the same conversations all over again with their new line manager.
The Parenting Passport allows employees to explain their family situations to managers in a structured way, opening up the conversation and giving staff “permission” to ask questions they might otherwise be worried about asking. If this is handled in a sensitive way it can lead to an employee feeling more comfortable asking for the support they need (which could, for example, mean restructuring hours to allow them to pick up children from nursery). When a constructive conversation is held between employee and line manager early on it can avoid the a situation reaching a crisis point.
This passport is designed in such a way that if the employee moves departments or a new manager comes in, the employee will not have to re-explain their situation. The employee usually controls the information recorded in the Passport, and only provides the personal information that they are comfortable giving, although both employee and employer should take responsibility for updating the information where appropriate and with consent Having it uploaded and password protected could offer reassurance to the employee: if systems permit, the employee could share the document when appropriate and have control over who it is visible to. The Passport is a ‘living document’ which should be reviewed and maintained throughout the parent’s career. The relevant line manager can keep a copy of the document, as can HR (again, with the consent of the employee).
It should be emphasised that the Passport is for all parents, and should not be limited to those who currently are making use of policies such as flexible working. The Parenting Passport is also a good way to highlight networking opportunities such as a Parenting Group.
Providing a Parenting Passport for staff should consist of three stages:
- Preparing for the conversation
- Having the conversation
- After the conversation
Talking to staff about Parenting Passports – Preparing for the conversation
As passports such as these are not currently well known or familiar, staff (and management) may need some explanations regarding how they work. Before any meetings with staff, ensure they are aware of the following:
What is a Parenting Passport?
The passport aims to start a conversation around the needs of parents at work and the flexibility required to maintain a balance between caring responsibilities and the work role.
Who can use one?
Any parent, or expectant parent, for whom parenting responsibilities my impact their work, both now or in the future.
How do I use the passport?
The document is supposed to be “live” and therefore reviewed at regular intervals, or if the nature of the job or parenting responsibility change.
What do I need to prepare for the conversation?
This conversation allows you to open up the topic of being a working parent with your manager, it’s good to think about the kinds of questions that may be asked in advance so that you can get the most out of the conversation.
How does being a parent impact on you?
What are your responsibilities?
How does this impact on your work?
What impact does work have on your responsibilities as a parent?
Are other aspects of your life affected by your responsibilities at work or as a parent?
What support do you need?
What support do you get from your employer at the moment?
What additional support would you like to receive?
What support may you need in the future?
What is currently available to you?
Are you aware of what policies the company has in place to support employees?
What would you like to know more about?
Familiarise yourself with parent-friendly company policies
Is anything unclear?
Having the conversation
Once the employee has had the chance to consider the support they might need and prepare any questions, a meeting should take place with their line manager or HR contact. During the conversation the passport document should be completed and afterwards agreed by both parties. An example passport which can be adapted to your organisational needs can be found here. At all times the employee should be reassured that providing this information is not compulsory in any way.
Areas to cover
Date of first conversation
Brief outline of parenting role e.g. how many children, what is desired in terms of leave/flexibility
Support currently receiving
Next steps for organisation
Based upon this conversation what are the next steps for the line manager to follow/escalate
Consent: Ensure signed consent from the employee is received to keep a copy of the parent passport on file/within HR
After the conversation
Both the employee and manager should retain a copy of the passport to refer to, and regular meetings should be scheduled to check whether anything has changed and whether the parent needs any further support. If the employee has taken leave, pick an appropriate time when they return to revisit the passport. This should not be straight away, as the employee will need time to settle back into work – agree a time, perhaps two months after the return to work.
When the employee has returned to work, revisit the support offered and used, and whether this is still appropriate. Points to discuss could be:
- How is returning to work going?
- Has anything been difficult?
- Are the structures / hours you have in place working for you?
- Are there any milestones that need to be noted for review again? (Such as child starting nursery / school)
You can find all of the materials mentioned in this and all other modules here.