In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, day cares and schools shut their doors. Months later, child care centers remain closed in many parts of the country, which means that parents are tasked with juggling caregiving and work responsibilities. In fact, according to a survey from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), 60% of U.S. parents report that they’ve had no outside help with child care during the pandemic.
Balancing work and caregiving responsibilities can be difficult and can contribute to decreased productivity, poor mental health and increased stress among employees. As a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases looms in the future, schools and day cares may remain closed in the fall and beyond. Parents are faced with the decision about in-person education, virtual learning or home schooling. While much attention is given to parents trying to balance their professional responsibilities—likely at home—with home-schooling and taking care of their children, there are also millions of people who are juggling remote work and elder care.
Employers across the country are implementing initiatives to help employees manage caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic.
The Importance of Supporting Employees
During these uncertain times, employees are understandably experiencing significant stress—which can lead to lower productivity and morale, and increase their risk for health conditions, absenteeism and higher health care costs.
Regardless of whether your business is asking employees to physically return to the workplace or employees are working remotely from home, it’s important that you implement initiatives designed to help employees manage their caregiving responsibilities.
The FFCRA Impact on Employers
Employers should familiarize themselves with new leave requirements:
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides employees with paid leave for reasons related to COVID-19.
- The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act requires employers to provide 12 weeks of leave to employees to care for a child whose school or care facility has closed.
- The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act requires employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick time to employees.
What Are Other Employers Doing?
According to the same BCG survey, the following initiatives were most commonly being offered to employees:
- Work-from-home arrangements
- Workplace flexibility
- Paid or unpaid family leave
Employer-sponsored child care for essential workers