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COVID-19 Back to school working parents

Ways to Support Your Employees with Children in COVID-19

As local school systems present not so normal options for the school year ahead in COVID-19, it leaves working parents scrambling for solutions to educate their children while performing their jobs. Businesses can reduce anxiety in their workforce by being a resource and offering help in these unprecedented time. Our HR consultants recommend the following:

  1. Check in with your staff on how they are doing, empathize with the situation, and let them know you want to support them and are working on ways to do so.
  2. Recognize that what support looks like might not be the same for everyone.
  3. Avoid scheduling meetings during lunch time to allow teleworking parents time to prepare lunch for their children
  4. Consider modified schedules, job sharing, remote working, reduced hours
  5. If in person work is required, offer company space like a conference room to bring children to work and hire a teacher/tutor. Check with your insurance provider to mitigate risk
  6. Contribute money toward additional childcare costs. Consult with your CPA on how to best accomplish this.
    An in home nanny could cost $500 plus a week
    Tutors could cost 15-25/hour
  7. Work with your benefits broker to allow special enrollment/changes for Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account to increase elections to gain tax benefits
  8. Offer resources. Share with them contact resources for hiring a tutor, nanny, or teacher for the on-site workspace or at home or neighborhood school pods.

When looking for resources, our HR consultants connected Lori Mihalich-Levin owner of Mindful Return. Mindful Return assists parents in being more successful in transitioning back to the workplace by providing tools, resources, and support after having a baby.  They are extending their services to working parents in COVID-19. She is offering:

1. One-Hour Workshops on Time Management, Work-Life Balance, and Mental Health: Topics are time management, managing energy, mindfulness, specific suggestions based on age/stage of child, managing workloads/responsibilities while children are home, boundary-setting, division of household labor. YES, we permit you to record these sessions to share with employees who were not able to attend live.
2. Facilitated Group Coaching for the Duration of the School Year: Offering weekly or bi-weekly facilitated group coaching sessions providing a way for your parent employees to connect in a supportive community on different topics.

Our HR consultants also connected with Leigh Aberle, owner of Families First Household Staffing Agency that specializes in placing professional nannies that have chosen being a nanny as their professional career.

Families First Household Staffing Agency has extended their offering due to demand in COVID-19 to tutor screening services for families.  They are also starting a virtual recess program in a small group setting to assist working parents.

Leave of absence
If other options are not possible, consider granting full-time leave or intermittent leave under Expanded family and Medical leave Act. Be sure to consult FAQs as new guidance is coming out all the time.

Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees. The FFCRA generally provides up to 12 weeks of leave, paid at 2/3rds of the employee’s regular base salary up to a maximum of $200 per day for 12 weeks ($12,000 total). Thus, employees working for covered-employers may be able to use leave under the FFCRA. This assumes that the employee has not already exhausted 12 weeks of leave previously under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or FFCRA during the preceding 12-month period.

If your employee requests leave to care for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, you must also document:

1. The name of the child being cared for;
2. The name of the school, place of care, or child care provider that has closed or become unavailable; and
3. A statement from the employee that no other suitable person is available to care for the child.

In these complex times, it is more important than ever to consult an HR professional.

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