Flexible work hours and working from home helps parents cope with childcare

The school holidays can be a nightmare for working parents.

You either use up all your leave, or it's a logistical nightmare sorting out childcare.

But a new survey shows some businesses are here to help.

More than a third - 34 percent - allow staff to work away from the office.

And 22 percent offer flexible start and finish times.

Online accounting firm MYOB conducted the survey to find out how many businesses have flexible work options.

They surveyed 1,000 local businesses and found some kind of flexible work option was offered by 60 percent of local businesses in the small to medium-sized  enterprise (SME) range.

One in five have specific hours for working parents.

And with up to 12 weeks of school holidays a year now, a lot of working parents are having to juggle that with their jobs, it's important for businesses to be flexible.

MYOB spokesman Conor Roberts told The AM Show more and more people these days are looking at businesses and asking 'how are you going to help me look after my kids?'

"For myself, I've got two young kids. I couldn't work in a place that didn't allow me the chance to drop them off or pick them up from childcare when need be, or work from home if need be.

The survey also found that 22 percent of businesses allow what used to be called 'glide time' - or the ability to shift the start and finish times of someone's working day to fit around those congestion times.

Eight percent of businesses allow four-day weeks, and a third allow people to work from home if need be.

Mr Roberts says nowadays most staff can really work from anywhere - which will also help with congestion in places like Auckland.

Some people feel bosses don't trust employees to work as hard at home.

But Mr Roberts says industries such as hospitality do restrict the options available.

"A lot of it's to do with what kind of industry it is. Obviously for retail and hospo you can't not be at work, where the place of work is," Mr Roberts said.

"Financial services and things like that you can work from home."

Some workers who don't have children feel they have to pick up the slack when parents leave work early.

He says the way to manage that is through making sure you have clear lines of communication and expectations.

"You've got to know what each side expects. So we just encourage businesses who are looking at flexible work options to just talk to their employees."

The research shows that staff who have the opportunity to work from home and look after their kids are happier, and there's less likely to be higher turnover of employees at those businesses.