Working parents have received very little support since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but some places have figured out concrete ways to help. Here are eight examples of governments and companies that get it.
The country offered free child care to its citizens for 14 weeks at the beginning of the pandemic, and financial support for the child care industry to ensure that providers were able to stay in business even during closures. Schools largely remained open, and those that closed reopened last spring. Parents can use two weeks of paid “carer’s leave” for unexpected school closures.
The government offered a new benefit for parents of children whose schools are closed: They can take leave from work, fully paid, or reduce their work hours up to 25% without a reduction in earnings. Also, pre-pandemic benefits enable parents to take 3 1/2 months of leave or reduce their hours, fully paid, for child care reasons, and to take four months off unpaid until a child is 6.
The state made an investment of over $40 million to keep child care centers open, including covering half of parents’ tuition payments from March 16 to May 30. Additional payments to child care centers have provided low-cost care to the children of front-line workers. Statewide paid sick leave includes caregiving during school closures.
The international accounting firm offered all employees the option to move to a part-time or four-day schedule. Parents could opt for a one- to six-month leave of absence at 20% of normal pay. Workers also had the ability to set aside “protected” hours of the day for family reasons, without meetings or assignments. Additional benefits included $2,000 in child or elder care reimbursement and discounts on tutoring, nanny placement and college admissions support.
The health insurer reimbursed employees for child care up to $100 a day, from March to December. It is also subsidizing in-person pods, run by the YMCA, with teachers to oversee remote school. Employees can receive discounts on child care, elder care and tutoring through the national care chain Bright Horizons — they pay just $6 an hour for in-home care, for example, and UnitedHealth covers the rest.
The international accounting firm helped organize pods for employees’ children to attend while doing online school. The company is offering additional paid leave for caregiving for as long as employees need it. The company also quadrupled its usual backup care to 60 days last year and 30 days this year (35 for infants). Other advantages included discounts on tutoring and college coaching.
The Washington state-based aerospace manufacturer opened a learning pod in its empty call center offices so employees’ children can attend remote school there while their parents work in the factory. The school is free, and parents, who work a reduced four-day schedule during the pandemic, take turns overseeing the students on their day off.
The private high school in Danville, California, is running supervised study halls on campus, where young children of faculty and staff spend weekdays and attend their own remote classes while elementary schools remain closed, administrators said. They hired teachers to supervise them, and the program is free for parents.