A nursery, complete with a diaper change facility, has been opened at the first floor of Iceland’s Parliament building. Secretary-General of Alþingi Ragna Árnadóttir told Vísir that this is a good step towards making Parliament a more family-friendly workplace. Parliamentary sessions have also recently been rescheduled in order to shorten workweek and increase predictability for parliament staff.
Ragna states that the nursery was opened in order to better meet the needs of staff and members of Parliament who have small children, as well as new parents. “It’s a step to meet people’s needs and a natural development,” Ragna states. Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna ævarsdóttir posted photos of the room on Facebook today. The room is on the Parliament building’s ground floor and is called The Nest. Þórhildur thanked parliament staff for their efforts, stating that she looked forward to spending time with your young one there, as soon as they were born.
Þórhildur is not the only MP who will be able to use the room, as Pirate Party MP Halldóra Mogensen had a child in November and is now on parental leave. Both of them intend to stand for election next September so the nursery might prove useful when they return to work.
Shortened workweek for parliament staff
The nursery is not the only effort Parliament is making to become a more family-friendly workplace as recent changes to parliamentary session schedules are intended to shorten the workweek and make the work easier on family life. Parliamentary sessions that used to start Wednesdays at three pm will now begin at 1 pm. Committee meetings will take place on Mondays to increase the predictability of parliamentary sessions. This will alleviate strain on staff and make it possible to end parliamentary sessions before eight pm.
The Speaker of Parliament Steingrímur J. Sigfússon told RÚV that they’re making an effort so that a shortened workweek will become reality. “The goal is of course that the shortened workweek will result in an actual shorter workweek without losing productivity.” He hopes that this will make Parliament a more family-friendly workplace, although there will always be a certain unpredictability concerning the workdays. “It’s inevitable. It’s how legislative work works but we see parliaments in countries around us making similar changes, concentrating the workload in the middle of the workweek so that people are more likely to get the weekends off, and so on.” He added that the success of the changes will be estimated around easter.
Parliament staff working conditions attracted attention during the Centre Party’s filibuster in November 2019. Staff worked around 3,000 hours of overtime as parliamentary sessions stretched into the night.