Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, to empower the early childhood sector and providing the best opportunities for development and prosperity for all children, His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, launched of the 2nd cycle of the "Parent-friendly Label" program, which allows organizations operating in the country within the semi-governmental, private and third sectors, the opportunity to receive a Quality Mark in recognition of their commitment to a supportive work culture and policies for children of 0-8 years old.

His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: "The UAE is steadily moving towards a more sustainable, growth-driven future in all walks of life and investing in early childhood care opportunities and enabling parents to contribute to building conscious and responsible generations that achieve harmony in line with the priorities of our wise leadership.”

His Highness emphasized that as voluntary workplace award program, the Parent-friendly Label reflects the leadership’s great keenness to achieve a balance between work, family and childcare for young children in their early years. Achieving this balance provides a social tool with a major and vital role in providing a positive environment that is supportive for children and compassionate towards parents’ needs. The program encourages and supports UAE-based organizations in the semi-government, private, and third sectors to work toward the goals of the UAE's early childhood development sector and the country's overall growth.

His Highness added: "The program seeks to enhance the sense of patriotism and social responsibility in organizations, and to contribute to the establishment of an innovative organizational culture that supports parents and enables them to set a general framework for the upbringing of their children in accordance with the best practices related to child care. The success of first cycle of the program has inspired us to roll it out on a national scale to create policies and frameworks that support parents, enhance those parents' role in providing comprehensive care for their children.

How to participate

All organizations that adopt policies that support parents can apply to participate in the program in its new cycle. Applicants can either earn PFL (level 1) which challenges them to go above and beyond what the law requires. Or PFL+ (level 2) that meets or exceeds global best practices.  The Label is valid for two years, with an annual check-in assessment.

This year’s program builds on the successes of the first cycle that was applied at the level of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as the first volunteer program of its kind in the region. The Parent-friendly Label was designed with joint cooperation and active contributions from a variety of leading national organizations in the UAE and further refined based on suggestions received from participants in the first cycle. For its new cycle, the program represents both the objectives of early childhood development and the promotion of economic growth and entrepreneurship. To fulfil these goals, the Parent-friendly Label will provide an educational journey that enables organizations to empower their workforce and explore best global practices.

The program provides a set of standards that employers can apply within their internal culture and adopt to provide a supportive work environment for parents. The Parent-friendly Label criteria have been updated to reflect the most recent amendments to the UAE Labor Law.

All applications to the program will be independently evaluated by an independent jury to ensure objectivity and transparency in the review and evaluation of applications. Obtaining the Parent-friendly Label gives valuable public recognition for employers in adopting and implementing policies and practices that support parents. The Label also helps employers take advantage of learning and development opportunities, have access to evaluation reports, and receive directed awareness on various media platforms without imposing any fees on organizations given that the Label is a voluntary program that enhances the spirit of social responsibility.

Supporting early childhood development

Her Excellency Sana Mohammed Suhail, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, echoed this sentiment, urging all relevant UAE organizations to take part in the program, earn the Label, and help establish a brighter future for our young children

Her Excellency added: "Through this ambitious national program, we are targeting as many organizations as possible to help parents achieve a balance between work, family and childcare in their early years and contribute to enhancing their participation in supporting the early childhood development process. We hope that employers across the country take the initiative and participate in the program to earn the Label and play their part in contributing to building a prosperous future for organizations and society on a larger scale.”

Supportive environment

Parent-friendly policies include support for working parents, an understanding of family needs, measures to welcome new parents, and increased maternity or paternity leaves and breastfeeding hours, along with other innovative programs encouraged by the Authority. Policies deigned to help employees balance their work and family commitments can also help them cope more effectively with stress and improve their general wellbeing. Improving employee wellbeing and mental health helps to boost an organization's performance and success, and parent-friendly environments also have positive impacts on recruitment, retention, loyalty, and morale.

The Parent-friendly Label has already been successful in inspiring a rethink of the challenges for working parents and a re-examination of workplace cultures and attitudes in Abu Dhabi. For its first cycle, six organizations – HSBC, Masdar, Emirates Nature-WWF, Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, Etihad Airways and Silal – earned the Label for implementing parent-friendly policies that included bonding leave for adoptive parents, extended paternity leave, and allowing mothers to choose when they wanted to take maternity leave, among other leading practices.

The successful organizations also demonstrated other innovative practices in their workplaces. Some of the winners adopted in-depth tracking of the impacts of their parent-friendly policies, while others offered remote work even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The first cycle of the PFL resulted in more than 20,000 employees being engaged and more than 6,600 children being positively impacted.

Any organization from the private, semi-governmental or third sectors in the UAE is entitled to apply for the Label. For more information about the program or to apply for the program, please call 800555 or visit the website https://eca.gov.ae/parent-friendly-home to fill out the online application form.