Some 77 percent of companies in Bangladesh do not have any childcare options for their employees, found a recent study of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) -- a situation that potentially prevents women from participating equally in the labour force.
The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, surveyed 306 private sector companies in Bangladesh, ranging from non-profits to manufacturing, financial service to information technology between May and July.
Only 23 percent offer childcare options to their employees.
Some 16 percent plan to introduce childcare facilities, while 61 percent have no plan yet, said the report “Tackling childcare: The business benefits and challenges of employer-supported childcare in Bangladesh”.
Employers that provide childcare attract and retain quality employees, most pointedly women employees, said Wendy Werner, IFC country manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, at the report’s launch at the Amari Dhaka.
“Employer-sponsored childcare and family-friendly workplace policies can benefit families, businesses, and the economy,” she added.
The IFC’s survey results point toward a strong business case for employer-supported childcare and incorporate recommendations for the private, public and development sectors to boost employer-supported childcare in the country.
The survey was funded by the Canadian government and developed after consultations with more than 75 employees and 40 stakeholders, including government representatives and care providers.
According to Bangladesh Labour Law 2006, companies with more than 40 female employees are legally required to offer childcare options.
The IFC conducted the survey with the view to raising awareness that the benefits of employer-supported childcare outweigh the cost of implementing it.
Since 2017, the IFC has produced several reports on childcare, including from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, highlighting the innovative approaches that companies have taken to provide childcare.
The report also said a lack of access to good quality, affordable childcare is a major obstacle to women’s participation in the labour force across the world because women usually bear a disproportionate share of childcare responsibilities.
Studies, including from the IFC, suggest that employer-supported childcare can be a win-win for all as it improves physical and cognitive outcomes for children, enhances employment opportunities for women and boosts productivity and profits for businesses and support socio-economic growth.