Written Answers. - Family Friendly Work Practices.

Andrew Boylan

Question:

42 Mr. Boylan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she proposes to take to develop and implement family-friendly policies at enterprise level in accordance with the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. [6999/01]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

100 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the specific proposals she has for the promotion of family friendly practices in the work place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7123/01]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

104 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the plans she has to introduce a public awareness initiative in view of the low take up of flexible work arrangements in companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7005/01]

I propose to take Question Nos. 42, 100 and 104 together.

To support and facilitate family friendly policies in the workplace, the National Framework Committee for the Development of Family Friendly Policies at the Level of the Enterprise, was established under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. The committee comprises representatives of ICTU, IBEC, public sector employers, the Equality Authority, a number of Departments, and is chaired by my Department.

The national framework committee has already undertaken a number of initiatives to raise awareness and provide information. The first Family Friendly Workplace Day, supported by ICTU, IBEC and the Equality Authority, was held on 1 March. My colleague, the Tánaiste, Deputy Harney, launched a new interactive web site, www.familyfriendly.ie, and an information brochure entitled "An Introduction to Family Friendly Working Arrangements" on behalf of the National Framework Committee to coincide with Family Friendly Workplace Day.

As part of the information and awareness campaign being undertaken by the committee, a series of follow-on actions are planned. There is a programme of four regional seminars scheduled from April to June, in Dundalk, Galway, Waterford and Cork. It is hoped that Family Friendly Workplace Day, and the regional seminars will be the springboard for a range of new initiatives at enterprise level.

The development of family friendly policies is best addressed on two fronts. First, through the work of the National Framework Committee, allied to a partnership approach in the workplace between employers, employees and trades unions. Second, through appropriate legislative measures. There are of course various family friendly statutory entitlements including maternity leave, adoptive leave and parental leave. I am currently piloting two important Bills through the Oireachtas, the Carer's Leave Bill, 2000 and the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Bill, 2000. In addition, my colleague, Deputy John O'Donoghue, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, has announced a review of the Parental Leave Act, 1998
The Government is committed to this approach in order to achieve the goal of making workplaces family friendly. The work of the National Framework Committee has got off to a good start and, with the support of the social partners and the Equality Authority, I am confident that further progress will be achieved.