Take A Break Away is for small businesses, using government money, to help make their workplace family friendly.

It was one of the successful recipients of the annual $15,000 federal government Work and Family Grants Program.

The annual grants are open to small businesses with less than 15 employees. They are funded by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Already Take A Break Away, a Canberra-based holiday booking company, is implementing family friendly work arrangements to create a more flexible workplace and help their employees meet their family obligations.

“The challenge is in understanding that it is about the quality of the job done, not the hours and places worked. The reward is keen, committed employees,” said HR director, Michelle Kothe.

“The grant has been used by Take A Break Away to support work from home arrangements for about half the staff members including providing laptops with remote access capability contact with the main office,” Michelle said.

“It has also been used to construct a family room at the office in Canberra, with a television and DVD player to allow employees with caring responsibilities to bring school-age children to work for short periods.”

Michelle said Take A Break Away had seen positive results and she had some advice for future grant recipients.

“The most important thing is to walk the talk. Management needs to lead the way by utilising these arrangements themselves,” she said.

“This encourages employees to take up family-friendly options and not feel their job may be threatened by doing so.”

What are family friendly working arrangements?

Family-friendly work arrangements are practices or resources that make the workplace more flexible and help employees to balance their work and family obligations.

This can include caring for dependent children, ageing parents, partners or other family members who need ongoing or temporary assistance.

Family-friendly work arrangements may include things like work from home/remote access, family rooms, and work and family related policies.

The aim of the Fresh Ideas for Work and Family grants program is to inspire businesses to develop innovative and fresh ideas tailored to suit the needs of employees and their business.

Examples of items winning applicants received funding for:

  • personal computer/laptop
  • information and communication technology
  • mobile phone (pre-paid)
  • software to provide remote access
  • consultancy for policy development
  • building or partitioning of family room
  • furnishings, such as sofa bed, lounge, table, chairs, desk
  • soft furnishings, such as cushions, window coverings, rugs
  • educational games/DVDs/books
  • art/craft supplies
  • television/DVD player
  • microwave
  • refrigerator
  • fan/heater

To find more information about the benefits of family friendly work arrangements and the Work and Family Grants Program, visit: www.deewr.gov.au/freshideas.