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New IFC Report Shows Employers and Workers Pay High Cost for Lack of Childcare in Fiji

Suva, Fiji, May 28, 2019 – The lack of quality, affordable and reliable childcare services in Fiji is causing public and private employers to lose over 12 work days per employee every year, according to a new report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.
The report, The Business Case for Employer Supported Childcare in Fiji , which surveyed over 2700 working parents in Fiji’s public and private sectors, lays out the business case for employer-supported childcare. It recommends a range of actions that employers and the Fijian Government might consider to better support working parents in Fiji in this regard.
“The Fijian Government recognizes the significance of this study and its implications for working parents,” said Fiji’s Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Parveen Bala. “In line with that, we are moving already to adopt one of the report’s key recommendations, which is to set up a national task force on early childhood care and education to identify and prioritize the government’s response to growing demand for childcare services.”
“The lack of affordable and accessible childcare services is taking a toll on working parents in Fiji through high rates of absenteeism, lateness, low productivity, exhaustion and stress as they juggle being a parent and working,” said IFC’s Resident Representative for Fiji, Deva De Silva . “The juggling act comes at a cost to business with the price tag for lost staff time averaging about US$253,000 (FJ $550,000) a year  overall, or about US$460 (FJ $1,000) per employee.”
With formal childcare options limited in Fiji and no regulations covering the provision of services for children under five years of age, the report shows only eight percent of working parents surveyed currently use a childcare service. Most working parents rely on family members or unqualified babysitters to care for their children while at work.
“This study clearly demonstrates that lack of access to affordable and reliable childcare not only affects early childhood development but also hurts the private and public sector employers, who depend on acquiring and retaining a skilled workforce,” said Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes.
The report shows the challenge of juggling paid employment and childcare is particularly acute for new mothers. An average of 21 percent of working mothers leave their jobs within a year of returning to work, reflecting a significant loss to business as well as families.  Employers are faced with high rates of turnover and challenges in recruiting skilled employees.
“The results provide insight on issues the company has been facing in terms of recruitment, productivity and overall retention of skilled employees. The study offers the company opportunities to support our employees which also makes good business sense,” said Nikita Patel, Group General Manager – Finance and IT, Vinod Patel.
“We decided to participate in this study because we care about our employees’ wellbeing and are looking for ways to better support their needs. Good childcare is also important for our future generation of workers,” said Ravinesh Krishna, General Manager HR, Fiji National Provident Fund
Seven companies took part in the study: Fiji National Provident Fund; Grand Pacific Hotel; Lyndhurst; Mindpearl Fiji; RCL Services; Vinod Patel; and Westpac Bank Fiji. IFC also surveyed staff from across all government ministries.
While finding there is no one size fits all approach to the provision of childcare, the report sets out a range of recommendations and actions for business, government and others to increase the supply of quality childcare services in Fiji. For employers, it includes options such as flexible work or other arrangements, that parents can access to best suit their needs.  For Fijian Government, the report shows that an important first step would be setting up a coherent policy and regulatory framework to ensure all childcare services are safe, of a high standard and accessible to everyday Fijians.
About IFC
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org
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About the Australia-Fiji Partnership
IFC’s work in Fiji is guided by the Australia-IFC Fiji Partnership. Australia and IFC are working together through the Partnership to stimulate private sector investment and reduce poverty in Fiji.