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Providing Working Parents a Lifeline Post-Pandemic

This time of year is typically filled with back-to-school shopping and gathering items on classroom supply lists. However, this year, COVID-19 has forced many school districts to make decisions to conduct classes remotely or offer a hybrid-learning model with both at-school and at-home learning. 

With these decisions, many employees face challenges regarding caring for children and taking the extra time to teach them while school is virtual. With these added responsibilities, keeping employees engaged and productive has become increasingly more difficult. As an employer, you may be wondering how to best support your employees with childcare concerns, what leave options might be available to them and how to ensure a productive workplace. An astounding 66% of working parents feel that their productivity at work has suffered while trying to manage both work and child-care duties. In addition, more than half, 55%, say they feel like they are letting down their colleagues.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), most employers with fewer than 500 employees are obligated to provide 12 weeks of expanded family medical leave (EFMLA) to eligible employees for childcare due to school closures, including partial closures. More information on what federal laws apply to coronavirus related leave can be found here.  

It is important to note that employees may be eligible to take FFCRA on an intermittent basis. While taking intermittent leave, if the school facilitates hybrid learning, FFCRA can only be used on days where the child is not in-person.

Beyond FFCRA, some states and municipalities have implemented paid sick leave laws specific to COVID-19 absences. Under these leave laws, employers may be required to provide time off for school closures or on-line schooling. Additionally, some cities within California, Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have extended some, or all, of the benefits of the FFCRA to employers exceeding 500 employees.  

In addition to state and federal programs, employers should review their internal leave policies to ensure whether or not personal leaves of absence or paid time off may apply for employees’ childcare needs.

In all situations, employers are encouraged to facilitate discussions with employees to explore alternative options that provide as much flexibility as possible. Doing so will help maintain an engaged workforce and support retention. These options should be delivered consistently to all employees to avoid any claims of discrimination.

  • Continued remote work
  • Flexible scheduling or adjusting work hours
  • Sharing work responsibilities amongst other team members
  • At-work childcare options
  • Alternative childcare benefits

Remember that situations change by the day, so what may have worked for your workforce one day may not the next. Maintaining an open dialogue with your employees about their concerns, schooling commitments and work demands will further help to engage and ensure productive work environments.

To learn more about how to best support working parents, including innovation benefit offerings that can help retain critical members of your workforce, join us for a webinar on Thursday, August 27th at 2 pm on How Employers Can Support Working Parents.

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