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Employers of all sizes increasingly are offering employees the opportunity to work non-traditional hours, and working mothers are taking note.

In its annual survey of the 100 best employers for working mothers, Working Mother magazine noted that more employees are taking advantage of opportunities to work flexible hours.

For example, some 5,000 of Hewlett-Packard Co. employees work at home, up from 2,900 last year, according to the survey. And 2,300 employees work a compressed workweek-putting in 40 hours in less than five days-up from 1,450 last year. The number of Hewlett-Packard employees who use flex time to begin and end work before or after core business hours remained a staggeringly high 52,000.

Hewlett-Packard is one of 100 companies that Working Mother magazine calls the best employers for working mothers.

Working Mother evaluates companies based on: how well they pay compared with their competitors; opportunities for women to advance; support for child care; flexible work arrangements; and other family-friendly benefits, such as maternity and paternity leave, adoption aid, elder care support and scholarships for employees' children.

The magazine's "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" report was released last week.

According to the report, the 10 best companies, in alphabetical order, are: Allstate Insurance Co., Barnett Banks Inc., Fel-Pro Inc., Glaxo Wellcome Inc., International Business Machines Corp., Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. Inc., NationsBank Corp., SAS Institute Inc., and Xerox Corp.

Allstate is new to the top 10 this year. All of the other companies have appeared on the top 10 list at least four times, though not necessarily consecutively, since Working Mother began conducting the survey 12 years ago.

About 500 organizations applied to be considered for the list. The 100 best companies selected span a wide array of industries and are in 26 states and the District of Columbia.

The companies range widely in size. On one end of the spectrum is The Benjamin Group, a 66-employee public relations firm in Campbell, Calif. It operates an onsite child care center. The Benjamin Group also offers other child care support programs, flexible scheduling and other family-friendly benefits.

At the other end is Chrysler Corp., with 93,751 employees. Chrysler offers on-site child care, other child care support programs, flexible scheduling and numerous other work/family benefits.

The prevalence of work/family benefits continues to increase. Seventy-nine of the 100 companies have onsite or near-site child care centers, up from 75 last year. Thirty-two companies reported they offer paid paternity leave for new fathers, up from 23 last year.