How Employers Can Support Working Parents During Daycare Shortages

Kids at daycare
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Many companies are experiencing the labor shortage twofold- filling their open positions and a daycare worker shortage impacting their employees. Responsibilities such as caregiving affect employees when daycare workers are in short supply as daycare centers close due to daily staffing shortages or permanently close altogether. It is estimated that 1 in 5 full-time employees juggle work and caring for their children, parents, or both regularly. Having their daycare provider suddenly close can put added stress on the employee, impacting their wellbeing.

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Employee wellbeing is affected when they have no daycare and are unable to work, causing loss of wages for hourly employees, employee absenteeism, and decline in productivity. Here are some ways that employers can help support working parents during daycare worker shortages:

1. Offer flexible work schedules when possible- Flexible work schedules, where employees can work flexible and variable hours to equal their regular hours, can help. The 8 to 5 model may not work for some employees each day, and employers open to evening or weekend work are more likely to retain the employee long-term.

2. Allow switching from full-time to part-time employment– Employees may need to move from full-time to part-time employment temporarily or permanently, depending on their situation. Being flexible and accommodating to their family daycare situation can help retain the employee and hopefully relieve some stress.

3. Provide job share options– A job-sharing arrangement is a full-time job split between two individuals, each with the responsibility for the success of the total job. This option may also save the employer money while addressing the needs of both employees to work part-time to care for family members.

4. Allow the employee to use paid and unpaid leave- By working with HR to develop policies to use paid and unpaid leave for family situations, the employer is demonstrating a “Family First” philosophy that can help all employees.

5. Develop a daycare leave donation bank- Employees with extra paid leave can donate their hours for emergencies such as daycare shortages. An hourly donation bank helps ensure that employees with no paid time off are not impacted financially by taking time off to care for their family when their daycare closes.

6. Partner with a daycare center for discounted rates- HR can develop a program with daycares nearby to promote the daycare to employees and, in return, receive a discounted rate for their employees.

7. Offer access to a flexible spending account– Companies can offer their employees a flexible spending account (FSA) that will allow them to contribute pre-tax dollars to fund dependent care expenses.

8. Coordinate backup daycare options- If an employee has no daycare last minute, having a backup plan in place through an agreement with a daycare center helps the employee- and your company. Some national daycare centers offer drop-in options for companies for a small service fee plus the cost of care billed directly to the company.

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