how is your company supporting employees with kids right now?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

In this time of Covid and virtual school, what are your readers’ companies doing, if anything, to help with childcare issues?

I work in HR at a manufacturing facility and our production workers are essential. We are trying to come up with creative ways to support them if they are struggling. I know that childcare is a problem, especially for women, but can’t find a lot of solutions.

Readers, if your company is doing anything to support parents right now, please share below. (Hopefully it’s not like this.)

{ 187 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    We’ve had lots of posts about how companies are getting it wrong, but this post is about what companies are getting right (if anything). Please keep comments focused on that. (I’ve removed a few that answered the wrong question!)

  2. Van Wilder*

    Bright Horizons backup care. We usually get 12 days a year but they gave us an extra 10 this year. You can use one of their backup care facilities or have in-home care. I have a small copay with mine but my husband gets 10 days through his job with no copay.

    1. Emily*

      Interesting. Have you used them at all? We have them and we used to but I haven’t seen this started. (I might like to, though.)

      1. Van Wilder*

        Yes! I’ve tried the centers (the one by my office was really excellent) but what works best for me is using the in home care while I work from home. I think they can work up to 12 hours / day. I usually do 8-10. My copay is $8/hour.

        They use some local agencies, which usually send college students or grad students. With one very minor exception, everyone they’ve sent has been great. I’ve requested repeats of certain people that I’ve liked the best.

    2. No Name Yet*

      LOL, my kid is actually home right now with a Bright Horizons backup care person. She’s great! And the process seemed fairly straight-forward, though I wasn’t directly involved with setting up the time/etc. My wife’s work did something similar (or maybe the same place), where they are giving almost twice as many days this year – there is a copay that changes depending on whether you’re using center-based care or home-based care (right now none of the centers around us are open, so….).

    3. NGL*

      We use Bright Horizons too, and our company just hooked us up with their Nanny-placement service. The application fee is waived and they cover half of the placement fee, which is still something like $300, but if you’re in a place where hiring a full time nanny makes financial sense, it’s probably worth it to have someone else handling all of the background checks and employment verification for you.

    4. I'm that person*

      My company also contracts with Bright Horizons. They also provide elder care and have programs for college applications/tuition planning.

    5. Summer Anon*

      They just extended our benefit to I think 60 days of backup care if needed with the co-pay waved. This is for children or elder care.
      Also providing a service to help find long term care/nanny. But that you have to pay out of pocket.
      We have Bright Horizon centers at work. Thankfully my child is old enough to not be in daycare but they are looking at expanding their facilities somehow to accept more enrollment.

      Honestly my company has been great about all of this. So many offerings I can’t keep track. We have a work from home agreement anyway but managers are being extremely flexible with parents whos children are doing school at home.

      The YMCAs in my area are setting up programs for older children who need supervision while they do their school work.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      Expanded Bright Horizons backup care here too, although I don’t have the specific details. Separate from company support, our school district (which is fully on-line at least for fall), is providing in-school childcare for parents who cannot be home during the day.

      Otherwise there’s some flexibility in hours (in theory – doesn’t always work with fixed meetings). We’re currently almost all working from home but there’s an expectation that full WFH permission will be extended even after more people head back to the office as long as parents have to be home with their on-line schooling children.

  3. Jubilance*

    My company is providing backup care through Bright Horizons – we used to get 20 visits per year, now it’s unlimited. Also included is “home care” where you have a babysitter come to your home to supervise during distance learning.

    1. Steveo*

      How safe do you feel it is there? I’m not sending my kids to school but I’d like to have a plan for emergencies and I have no family nearby.

      1. A*

        I think this is location dependent. My whole county has only had ~350 cases total, so most of my colleagues have felt comfortable utilizing BH (granted I only know people that use it as a backup, not regularly). My friends in hot spot areas? Not so much.

      2. Van Wilder*

        I got nervous when I needed to request backup care a few times within a couple weeks, because it’s introducing a new person every time (I use the in-home option.) But you can request the same nanny again if you like them, so it makes me feel better if I can get a repeat person. The cases are also very low in my area at the moment.

  4. Panda*

    My company signed the Invest In Parents Pledge. We are able to use a special time code (with manager’s advance notice) if we need time to help the kids. We are still expected to get our work done and meet the requirements of the role.

    I feel for my colleagues who have small children. I know it’s still going to be pretty stressful. My kids are fully remote but since one is a senior and the other a freshman, I don’t have sit with them although I do had to prod the younger one last year to get his work done. I think this year, the way things are set up, he’ll do better.

    1. Panda*

      Also, most of my company will be working remotely at least into January. We’ve heard that they may let us go full time remote if we want that.

      1. Shemhazai*

        Something tangible your company might be able to do is help with technology/devices/school supplies for families doing virtual schooling.
        Things like: making sure remote workers have a company-issued laptop, so they don’t have to share their personal laptop during the day and their kids can use it for school. Going through old cables, headsets, microphones, etc in the supply closets and offering them to employees’ kids. Same with office supplies like paper, pens, staplers, and scissors. My old office had literally boxes of vendor-branded notepads and pens lying around that never got used.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The problem with this is that it won’t work for the OP, who has production workers [who by nature cannot be remote] that are the ones who need the assistance :(

      But we’ve certainly given more than the standard allotment of paid time off in the event of a child care issue. It only helps when it comes to child care falling through though.

    3. Van Wilder*

      Cool! We don’t have a pledge but I forgot, we also have a time code for COVID-related absences. We have to specify whether we’re using it for child care or healthcare issues.

  5. Ranon*

    My husband’s company officially adjusted their evaluation system to “given current circumstances” They’ve also not batted an eye that his current circumstances means significantly reduced hours, his last evaluation was at meets/exceeds.

    My position is paid hourly (although it’s traditionally a salaried position) so I’ve reduced my hours and my boss has been very accommodating to my “well, my current available hours given our available care is this but that could change at literally any moment” availability.

    Curious what companies who are providing backup care through places like Bright Horizons are doing for employees who can’t use it safely- the big commercial daycares in my state are the ones reporting the highest levels of cases and the very nature of drop in care makes it much riskier than stable cohorts. That doesn’t seem particularly helpful, really.

    1. Fieldpoppy*

      I really emphasize adjusting expectations with my clients as well — there’s taking care of the kids, and then there’s the time/energy involved in navigating everything.

    2. Christy*

      Can you say some more about adjusting the evaluation system? My struggling employee is also a parent of four and the only one with a working spouse.

      1. Ranon*

        I don’t know what all they did- just that the expectations they had for their employees pre-Covid were adjusted to acknowledge the reality that everyone’s capacity to be an employee was negatively impacted by Covid. They also adjusted sales goals downwards, extended deadlines- basically they’re working from the position that business as usual is nonsense and the goal is to do the best they can given circumstances. They’re a nearly fully remote company anyways and the C-suit is not particularly full of parents so it was fairly remarkable that they still realized the current circumstances should change what they expected from, well, everyone

  6. Summersun*

    My company has split manufacturing into three shifts with 24-hour production, and the shifts are tipped earlier than usual. So instead of the day shift working 0600 to 1500 as usual, they are working 0400 to 1200. This is intended to avoid shifts changing during school start/end times.

    A lot of our production employees with children are are not seeing their spouses right now. They are working overnight so the parent with an inflexible office job can work the day.

    1. Snuck*

      Not a bad idea… to have variable shifts!

      Could you also have a variety of overlap shifts? Does a whole workforce have to come on and off at the same time, or is it just a ‘hot bod in the seat’ possibility? If the latter could you have some people start at other times (that suit spouse/childcare hours ) so long as it’s partnered with the others around the clock? So long as they are at work, on time, and able to swap someone else out… would that work?

  7. Waiting to be Future Endeavored*

    We get 30 days back-up care through Bright Horizons now (up from 10) but 1) my child is doing remote school for at least all of the fall semester and is in early elementary school, 2) I don’t want a string of sitters in my house, and 3) back-up at the center depends on their availability, and I know that centers are operating at smaller numbers. I also know the affiliated Bright Horizons center had a recent positive case and a class was quarantined.

    We had two weeks of leave to cover childcare but that ended in July. Check to see if your company is eligible for the federal leave that was provided for this.

    My husband and I are paying a “nanny” (recent high school graduate) and sharing her with another family so she watches the younger toddlers and we tag-team supervising school, which is just getting started. We are also able to work from home. We’re paying more $ for fewer hours than when our toddler was in a childcare center but there are other benefits.

    A big thing can be flexibility with hours.

  8. The New Normal*

    My husband’s company (a government agency, really – think a utility commission or resource agency) has begrudgingly allowed him to work from home. The primary issue we have is that leadership for the last 60 years in this agency has been white males belonging to a particular religious group that believes a woman’s place is in the home. I work for a K-12 and in an office that is critical for students, so I am quite busy even with distance learning. And because I was WFH this spring, my district is being very restrictive on who can WFH now – to the point where I do not qualify. So it’s on my hubby to WFH. And his leadership is very bothered by this. They have been bending over backwards to accommodate the women in the office who want to work from home, but the men are met with suspicion and an assumption that they are trying to get out of doing actual work. So I would implore any managers out there to please not take the gender of the parent into consideration. Yes, more women will be affected because of cultural/societal assumptions that their jobs are not as important as a man’s so they should be the first ones to provide childcare, but that is not the case for everyone. Creating an inclusive policy regardless of parental gender should be a priority.

    For this particular letter writer, I wonder if redistributing shifts would help. Many manufacturing facilities work around the clock, so perhaps employees can be surveyed to see if a different shift would help with their childcare issues.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      Distributing shifts can go a long way to help! While it can be hell on sleep and tough on a marriage/partnership, if there are 2 caregivers in the home and they’re able to tag-team kid duty by changing their work times, it can make what was previously impossible possible. But it relies on companies being flexible. My company is really pushing managers to be flexible with their employees where possible with schedules so they can make home life work and I’m grateful.

      1. The New Normal*

        When I gave birth to my son, I really struggled with not getting enough REM sleep. Sure I could get 8 hours of sleep in a 24 hr period, but they were in 1-2 hour blocks. So my husband and I worked out a system: he would get home at 5:30, we’d eat a meal together or just sit on the couch together while I nursed the baby, then I would go to bed and he would take baby duties. At midnight, he would go to sleep, after having fed the baby (usually for the third time). I would then wake up for any other disturbances after midnight. That gave me at least 6 hours of solid sleep. And it was temporary – we knew that the day would come when the baby would be able to sleep longer, but this gave both of us time to sleep.

        If a manufacturer is able to change shifts around, then families could tag team. It’s just for a short period of time, a matter of months really.

        1. AnonInTheCity*

          Can confirm, this is a pretty sustainable schedule and is exactly what we did when my son was really little. I went to bed early and my husband stayed up late and did the last feeding, so by the time I got up with him at 2 AM or so, I’d already have had 5 hours of solid sleep. It wasn’t ideal forever but it can be done for a few months for sure.

    2. Antonio*

      “New Normal” if this is a public agency that is treating male employees differently than female ones I see some unlawful discrimination based on gender occurring here. (I’m not a lawyer but used to prevent workplace discrimination cases before a state agency.)

  9. K in Boston*

    Emergency childcare is subsidized through a partnership our company has with, 30 days now up from our previous 15 days. Copays are $6/hour for in-home care or $15 per child per day at a child care center, reimbursed up to $125/day beyond that.

  10. Zombeyonce*

    Mine is actually being incredibly great about it. It’s a huge healthcare company with lots of clinical workers, researchers, and knowledge workers and everyone that can is currently teleworking with everyone else masked and social distanced where possible, heavily PPEed with lots of hand washing where not. They’ve changed the telework policy and publicized the change that now childcare and elder care can take place during work hours if necessary and you will not be penalized. The policy also says that managers are expected to accommodate workers. It’s surprising and amazing. My particular department was already doing that but there are plenty of depts across the company that have managers that weren’t, so it’s so good to see it in writing that people are protected and backed up by leadership and HR.

    This was put in place at the start of the pandemic as a temporary policy but it’s now been made official going forward until we’re notified otherwise. The president has put out a lot of communication showing that we’re teleworking and keeping up stringent social distancing and masking measures until there’s real, demonstrable change (read: probably a well-distributed vaccine in addition to state and nationwide numbers going way down) and they’re not making a peep about pulling this even though schools are opening. (I know because I’m part of a group that is working on an update to it we’re about to distribute.)

    For reference, my state is partially reopened so people are definitely back at work in many capacities, but childcare is still shut down for all but emergency workers. Schools are reopening in a week, partially virtual and partially in-person.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      Oh, and they’re also trying to set up some childcare centers near different locations in the city for employees that can’t telework but that’s been really hard to figure out how to do both safely and also comply w/all the licensing and laws. We also have an extra 2 weeks of leave if you or a household member get sick w/COVID-19 so you can quarantine.

  11. Emi.*

    We got up to 20h of paid caregiving leave (children or elders) every two weeks, if you had exhausted all reasonable flexibility (whatever that means), but it runs out at the end of the month and we don’t know if it’s going to be renewed.

    We also have a virtual support group where you can get advice like “practice self-care by locking yourself in the bathroom for fifteen minutes.”

    1. Dave*

      Are you a government employee? My in-laws have been able to benefit from this for their kid. Given they are both government employees they each get the 20 hours and have worked it done to 10 hours a week each one is off. Make your work week 4-10’s – 10 that leaves 3 days a week they each work so they have one day a week they need childcare which is much more manageable for them.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      What helpful advice! I’ve tried it before and my daughter just pounded on the door. Once I eventually got her to stop doing that when she was old enough to understand privacy, she now just sits outside the door when I’m in the bathroom and quietly taps or scratches her nails down the door waiting for me to come out. It’s so eerie that it’s almost worse.

      I hope that paid leave gets renewed for you!

      1. jenkins*

        Mine stands outside the door and groans like he’s in mortal agony. He can keep it up for quite a while.

      2. Pro Trans*

        There was a great viral tweet a few years back with a video of a little girl shoving almost her whole hand under the bathroom door where mom was, waving her fingers slowly. The caption was, “living with a toddler is like living in a horror film.”

        We made “do not disturb” signs at the beginning of the pandemic and stick them on bedroom doors with painter’s tape when we need privacy. An idea for your daughter?

      3. Lilly76*

        When mine was little she used to shove “notes” and “presents” continually under the door and if I didn’t acknowledge each item she would bang and say “you get momma?”

  12. Philly Redhead*

    We are still 100% remote until at least the beginning of 2021. The leadership committee recently stated that associates are allowed to flex our schedules, or make arrangements to temporarily reduce our hours, to accommodate childcare or helping children with virtual learning. I don’t think I’ll need to do either, but I appreciate the flexibility.

    They also offered free online “enrichment classes” for kids through a third-party company (one was a sing-along, one was yoga, one was science experiments) over the summer, and have put out a survey to see if associates want it to continue into the fall.

  13. Lurking Tom*

    My company is letting people go part time and/or rearrange their schedules to facilitate home schooling their kids and is also giving all employees with school-aged children (including preschool-aged) a stipend to help offset the cost of school supplies, home-based classroom setup and teaching materials for their homes. I don’t have kids , so I don’t know how much specifically, but my understanding from others is that it’s somewhere between $500 & $1000.

    1. Artemesia*

      There are some weird economic winners in this desperate economy. We know someone who does awnings and yard furniture and he is doing gangbusters business; companies selling office set ups for adults and kids are also big winners with more business than they can handle.

      1. Lurking Tom*

        Yeah, I know someone who works for a cubicle company that has pivoted to home classroom setups, which is basically repurposing cubicle & office desk inventory they already had to make little learning pods. They are hiring delivery people and installers like crazy.

  14. Amelia*

    Basically benign neglect. Most of us are still working from home and there’s no specific support, but leadership is basically looking the other way as long as the work is getting done. The school district is going with hybrid instruction with a weird rotating schedule, so even people who are sending their kids back aren’t actually able to go back to the office full time.

    1. Kat*

      This is what my company (at least the division I work in is doing as well). People are able to go into the physical office now (with some restrictions) but there is no pressure to do so and as long as work is getting done no one says anything. This surprised be because they were very anti-remote-work previously and seemed very reluctant to go remote at the beginning of the pandemic. I’m very thankful for it though! Most schools here are starting fully remote with a few doing convoluted hybrid models so I hope this attitude continues. My kids are teens so I don’t have childcare needs exactly, but I feel better about being home to just verify that they are doing their schoolwork and not playing Fortnite all day!

      1. Rainy*

        In my department, we had some restructuring that happened concurrently but coincidentally to the pandemic, and the person in leadership who was extremely resistent to WFH was pushed out. It has really helped the situation!

    2. Yup*

      My agency is also looking the other way as long as the work is getting done. It’s a good thing but also a little unnerving because this also means that no formal policy or deadline was ever announced. Basically we all live in fear that executive management will suddenly announce a big change and we will all be scrambling.

    3. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

      If all the work is getting done then what is the problem or concern about during which hours it is getting done?

      1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

        I mean the reason I ask is that while my employer / manager is allowing flexible hours, it seems to me that they are turning a blind eye to parents’ drop in productivity since the schools closed, despite lip service to maintaining productivity. That said, there are very few employees with young kids; most of our employees either don’t have kids (yet), or have adult kids or at worst teens.

  15. Jennifer*

    Just allowing flexibility with hours and letting people take time off mid-day and make up their hours later in the day or week.

  16. Pretzelgirl*

    March-May they closed down our daycare onsite and opened it for employees only for free. We are an essential business that never closes. Then they became a pandemic daycare for health care workers only (employees could still attend). Now its very departmental based. My boss is pretty flexible and I will be WFH 3 days a week to help my kids with virtual school. The other 2 they go to my in laws. I have to be in the office to do things that cannot be done from home. Most people are really understanding of family needs. My boss has 3 kids of his own.

  17. ThatGirl*

    Neither I nor any of my immediate team members have kids, but our VP is a mom and there are a lot of parents in the larger team. I know that at least part of the reason we’re able/encouraged to WFH through the end of the year is to help with school/childcare related planning, and that there’s been a lot of flexibility available if parents need to shift working hours or take extra time off. But I don’t know what, if anything, has been done beyond that. Local school districts are varying a lot in their response (and this is the Chicago suburbs – every town has their own district with like, 3 schools in it) so I don’t know how many kids are in a real-life classroom every week.

  18. Anon-mama*

    Library paraprofessional covered by a union in a municipal system. We’re pretty sure we’re covered under FFCRA, but they have not communicated that explicitly. I suppose if we need it, we can ask. So far, no one needs it through a combination of family caregiving and other parents/partners. I don’t need it. There is always vacation time for those like me who’ve exhausted their FMLA, as well as possible approval of unpaid leave. Most schools here are doing hybrid learning, and with our schedules, may mean two or three days off each week. My husband’s company is too large for FFCRA, but they have more generous leave, as well as six weeks paternity leave over the year. Otherwise, I think the attitude is “sucks to be you” if there’s literally no option–just furlough with unemployment, I guess. At least with our contract, if we need to leave for up to a year, we could actually get hired back at the same level of pay and benefits. I could imagine the city preferring to save money and not fill the vacancy of a furlough.

    OP, I would feel supported if your comment could sustain some kind of paid leave–maybe not 2/3, maybe just 1/3 for the weird schedule. Or, if you couldn’t pay, but promised in writing that after the furlough of say, three months (by which I could collect unemployment and you could maybe hire a temp), I’d be hired back in my exact position. If those options don’t work, I’d feel supported if you are large enough, if you found a way to help us secure qualified virtual learning camps.

    1. OHCFO*

      Definitely ask about FFRCA. A lot of municipalities are claiming 100% of their workforces are exempt bc so many of their employees classify as emergency personnel.

      1. Anon-mama*

        We have asked for clarification. Two weeks ago. There was an email in the week the last took effect that simply had an attached basic flyer about the law and two sentences about how after consulting with legal/DoL, the following departments were exempt. It really was only emergency services and public works.

  19. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I don’t have kids, but my manager does and one of my close coworkers does. My coworker has talked extensively about the virtual option for school and I think mostly because we were always remote, we’re just letting people flex hours if needed, and because we’re an education-adjacent company, we’ve always been pretty flexible about kids. I know several of my coworkers (before Covid) would take a “break” around 3pm to go pick their kids up from school, or walk outside to meet the bus. Everyone works hard and gets their job done, so honestly, it hasn’t been too bad other than the toddlers that have meltdowns on occasion when when we try to have meetings. It’s not unusual for someone to be holding their kid on a team call (sometimes my dog visits the team too).

    1. SeluciaMD*

      This is kind of where we are too. We’re a quasi-governmental agency but so much of our work is child and family focused our Exec Director feels strongly about staff being able to put family first. Most of our staff have kids, many of whom are school-aged, and our public schools are 100% virtual until at least January. So we’re just remaining flexible. We’re too small to offer any kind of child care options or subsidies (we’re also 100% grant-funded which is another complication on that front) but we have always been big on flexibility. And while there are certain meetings and things that are time constrained, most of our work can be done on a very flexible schedule and that was true even before the pandemic. As supervisors we also try to work with our teams so that if there is something time sensitive that someone won’t be able to address we work together to get it taken care of. Bcause everyone gets the same level of consideration and everyone benefits in some way, the entire team is pretty willing to pitch in whenever they can – because they know that at some point the favor will be returned. So just lots and lots of flexibility and cross-team support. And so far, that’s working for us.

  20. AngtheSA*

    My company would probably let me work from home if I asked but I am about to go out on maternity leave soon and need to be in the office to train my replacement while I am out. My husband works from home full time pre pandemic so when my daughter was off he would just balance between both work and her schooling as necessary. He is highly productive anyway and normally starts work early (5 am) so he is already ahead by the time our child gets up. She goes to school 2 days a week and is virtual 3 days and he just handles it as he sees fit. His still gets his work done every week, which is all they care about and our daughter has thankfully not needed him much to help her with her school work.

  21. Former Retail Lifer*

    This probably won’t be relavant to too many other people, but I work in property management and my company is open to adding different shifts and changing office hours on a case-by-case basis. Normally we’re here on site weekdays from 9-6 and, depending on the site, maybe weekends as well. If you need to log your kids onto online classes but they’re done at 3, you can request to start your shift at 3:30 and work until 9 (or whatever happens to work for you). For sites that aren’t open on weekends and that have enought staff, you can request to be open on weekends. In property management someone needs to be on site most days, but people are able to alternate work-from-home days as long as it’s fair to the rest of the team.

  22. Zanele Ngwenya*

    Not what we’re doing but an idea the writer could use- Create a forum for workers to connect about childcare resources. While having a conversation with a co-worker in the hall, she shared she’s desperate for a nanny share. I was able to connect 1 other friend with a nanny who was taking people on. I was able to share which centers I knew were taking kids.
    Not perfect, but people in large companies often operate in siloed ways, so just giving people the platform to form pods/mutual childcare arrangements would be massive where I work. (Especially in production where shifts are opposite- maybe families with opposite shifts could pair off?). Just an unmonitored, non-workspace space to do so.

  23. Anhaga*

    I’m with a (very small–8 people) tech company, and my boss is allowing folks to WFH if they don’t have childcare otherwise. It’s a pretty easy-going place, happily, so as long as we’re getting work done, not dropping the ball on deadlines, and can find a quiet place for the occasional client meeting, it’s good. Most of us are fortunate to have a spouse who’s SAH or part-time WFH, though, so we’re so far not really needing to use it now that the state/city are out of lockdown.

  24. Allison Wonderland*

    My company has increased the benefit offerings and an enhanced flexibility options. I have not taken them up on these options though because my team has been incredibly lovely and tolerant of my situation and I have been able to juggle a 1st grader virtually back in class with my work responsibilities. The other day my team meeting coincided with my son’s PE class. My boss thought it was hilarious to watch my kid flying around like an airplane and doing an elephant walk in the background. He made me move the camera so we could all see it better. We laughed and agreed to change the time of the calls so as not to be further distracted by PE class.

  25. AnonInTheCity*

    Idea for the OP: Can someone at the company do research on daycares that are open and have vacancies in your area, and keep an up to date list available? By far the hardest part of finding childcare is calling around to a million daycares to find one with availability. Knowing “this daycare has immediate openings for infants and toddlers, and a waiting list for 3-5 year olds” would be the most immense help.

    1. Kate*

      If your company has an Employee Assistance Program they should have a team that’ll do that heavy lifting for you if you call in for a possible referral, you should be able to ask for a list versus a confirmed referral. The list will just provide 8-10 places/people that meet the criteria (i.e. open for infants, early drop off, etc) and it would then be up to you to schedule/book.

    2. KatieHR*

      I think this is a great idea but if the OP works in a manufacturing environment those shifts can start early and most daycare centers open at 6:30am.

      1. Cj*

        well that’s true, they were doing something for daycare pre covid, so they apparently found daycares that worked with their shifts then.

  26. Ali G*

    We haven’t changed from when we went to fully remote back in March: do what you can, work when you can, ask for help. We don’t care where or when you work, as long as you are getting your stuff done. Recently a colleague drove to the region where her family is (and her kids cousins) and she just jumped from house to house so the kids could get some play time and parents could get some work done. Totally fine with us. We also have generous vacation and are urging people to use it, even if they aren’t traveling. Some parents took off for the first week of school to help kids get settled (they are all still fully remote).
    We also have quite a few parents that are using the EMFLA to cut back on hours so they can better support kids and the other working parent.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Several people on my team, including me, have called in with a variety of houses in the background this summer – visiting relatives, vacation rentals, etc. We have to report any time we’re working from a different state for more than 30 days for tax reasons, but there’s no issue with it, just recordkeeping.

    2. Formica Dinette*

      That’s essentially what my company is doing. We’ve been fully remote since March and the earliest anyone will be going back to the office will be January, though I’ll be shocked if that doesn’t get pushed out further. It’s a nonprofit on a tight budget, so there aren’t any emergency childcare benefits. However, they’ve waived some of the normal rules for remote workers, such as requiring us to have childcare while we’re working. They’ve also made it clear that we can work any days of the week or time of day/night within the limits of the law; we just need to clear it with our manager. Some employees have to follow HIPAA privacy regulations, but other than that we can pretty much work any time, any place. Many people already had company laptops, but they also allowed us to bring home our desktop computers and monitors. I think they may have also gone out of the way to assist a few people who didn’t have internet at home.

      This probably won’t help OP, but maybe it’ll give others some ideas.

  27. Mary Dempster*

    It’s really not a hard “benefit,” but my company has no issue with working from home, though the office is open, only 1 or 2 people use it (out of 50 or so in this location). I work from home and have daycare part time, but on the days my daughters are home and my husband is working, I just do my best and everyone is understanding. Sometimes it means taking a call, on camera, with my 1 year old who’s teething, or having the toddler’s movie on in the background when I’m mostly on mute, or I reschedule meetings or take them on the run if I have to thanks to pickup/doc appointments, etc.

    Understanding and flexibility on a day to day basis. Because no one day is the same.

  28. mayfly*

    Flex hours, the ability to work at home, reduce meetings and video calls to only those that are truly essential, make caregiving hours available if possible/needed. Getting up to speed on what the local school districts are doing would also be helpful. Are they in-person? There may need to be plans to support parents during an intermittent quarantine. Hybrid? Flex time and proactive scheduling during in school hours.

  29. Bo Derek*

    The company I work for provides and supports an essential service, so we’ve had to remain open during the paramedic. But those of us with kids have an exception and have been sent home and will be allowed to work from home until at least August 2021, providing support to everyone else who are all working in the office full-time. Those of us with kids have also been given slack on our productivity as opposed to those in the office. I’m thankful for my company’s support during this time.

  30. KatieHR*

    Is there anybody who is dealing with hourly TM who can’t work from home? Our company is being great with the admin staff that can work from home but about 75% of our company can’t work from home and are struggling to find childcare, specifically back up care. I am currently already looking into,, and Bright Horizons for backup care options.

    1. Names changed for privacy*

      Thank you, I would also really appreciate any insight into specifically this. Our production schedule is insane right now – in addition to the usual 4 /10s going to 4/12s there’s (voluntary) overtime Fri-Sun. There is no room to flex schedules, and they have to be physically here. As far as I know (I’m not in HR), if something happens to an employee’s childcare, they’re out on some form of leave. I do know we’ve had a lot of call-ins and have been short staffed pretty consistently. We’re hiring, but that plus training takes time. I’m really happy for people that can make WFH happen, but there’s not a lot of resources for anything else.

      1. agnes*

        I’d like to know more about this myself. About 50% of our employees cannot work from home or flext their hours due to service requirements for our customers.

    2. WS*

      Many, many people in our area have been laid off so we’ve trained up several junior staff who can at least fill in for the parents in case of emergencies. (There’s little other available work in the region with all the tourist industry closed and everyone is desperate for something.) We actually have 8 back-up staff members available right now – they can’t fill every role but we can shuffle around enough to back up anyone who needs sudden time off.

  31. Guacamole Bob*

    My government agency has said that one of the reasons our department will be staying remote is that schools are all remote around here – they won’t require people with desk jobs back in office full time until schools re-open. Which is a nice assurance to have. (They can’t promise that to everyone because we provide front-line essential services that can’t be done from home. But they’ve been good about accommodating emergency FMLA and other leave for front-line employees.)

    The biggest thing that my department has done is model the flexibility that they promise. My manager doesn’t log on until after lunch many days due to child care, our department director’s kids are sometimes visible/audible on staff meeting calls (I kind of think he does that on purpose for those calls to normalize it), etc. It makes me feel more okay about it when kid stuff affects work.

    My wife and I were talking about the start of the school year and I said I’d just tell my manager I’d be less available for a week or two as we figured out distance learning (and probably hire part time child care, but we don’t know what schedule we need yet so we can’t prepare very well). She was appalled, because in her office admitting to that is the kind of thing that is Not Done, especially for women. But when I told my manager, he was like, “yeah, me too. This all sucks, good luck.”

  32. Skeeder Jones*

    I work in healthcare on the admin side. Our company has done a few things. First and foremost, the majority of our staff are working from home and the message from leadership has been supportive of parents who suddenly have kids in the house and they are offered flexibility. For those employees that need to be present in the office, they offer a hotline for assistance in locating childcare as well as a weekly stipend to help offset the cost. I am truly proud of my organization!

  33. ElizabethJane*

    My company has been excellent about flex hours (which I know is not feasible in all environments, particularly manufacturing). For the most part my husband and I have been able to cobble our schedules together and finish our work during nap time or after bedtime without too much issue.

    They’ve also officially revised their work from home policy to allow unlimited working from home even outside of a pandemic to make it easier to care for children.

  34. PerpetuaIndecsivia*

    One of my jobs (I have two) is working hard to make sure parents’ needs are being met as best as possible. Currently we’re all WFH but slated to return to the office after Labor Day. Those with children are being given extra leeway in continuing WFH as necessary when we return (many schools will be remote in our area and many childcare facilities are still for essential workers only and/or have limited capacity). This is more so to keep the number of people in the office down, but we’ll also be rotating people in the office between in office and WFH, so no one will be in the office five days a week.

  35. Jessica Jones*

    My work allotted parents and extra 10 paid vacation days and is allowing parents to work less hours but keep the same rate of pay. It’s been really helpful to me knowing that I won’t have my pay cut while I’m working less because my kids are at home.

      1. Jessica Jones*

        Fewer hours for the same salary. So parents get paid for 7.5 hours a day even though we don’t always work all those hours. We were also exempt from the pay cuts my work did as a cost savings measure.

        1. A*

          Wait, so they rolled out pay cuts – but only to those that don’t have children? I’m all for supporting parents, but this doesn’t sit well with me at all.

          1. WellRed*

            Yeah, I hope I’m reading that part wrong. I could agree with the rest of it (as long as my child-free self isn’t taking on the extra work).

          2. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

            I am a parent and even I find this disturbing. It may have been better to cut everyone’s pay equally and then give benefits to the parents to make up for it (child care subsidies and whatnot).

  36. MistOrMister*

    My firm is allowing flex scheduling for parents and caregivers. So, if you have to stop during the day to do stuff with your kids, you put it on your time sheet and let your supervisor know, and make up the hours elsewhere in the day or possibly on the weekend. They’ve currently done away with the usual limitations we have on how much time can be made up within a day/pay period. As helpful as this is now, I can just imagine it wil be much more so as school starts back up.

  37. evee*

    I also work in an office for a manufacturing company that is essential. We are lucky that this hasn’t been an issue for us as most employees with children have adult children or younger-than-school-aged children but our company is giving employees several options. A note: We are owned by a larger corporation and thus, technically, have more than 500 employees, so the company doesn’t HAVE to do anything.
    1. Take your PTO time as needed, we start at 20 paid days vacation/sick.
    2. Use your FMLA and take up to 12-weeks unpaid. Additional unpaid time can be given, if needed.
    3. You can request to be furloughed. Your job is safe but they will do this so you can take unemployment.

    We get paid for 2 days while we wait on test results and anyone with a positive test can also use the above options.
    It’s not perfect and it would be better if they offered more time paid but considering that they aren’t obligated to and we have 100+ employees on site I think they are trying their best.

    1. evee*

      Oh, office workers who have work can also WFH, as needed. This is a very small number of our workforce, though.

  38. JustaTech*

    My company (~1000 people, 3 sites) asked what parents needed help with and based on that feedback, and what we can actually do, took all the old laptops (maybe 50?), wiped them, installed updated operating systems, made sure they were working, and gave them to parents who needed laptops for their kids to do schoolwork.

    Everyone who can WFH is still WFH (the facilities, manufacturing and lab staff go in, but all the admin staff, which is about 1/3 of the company, are WFH). Because our sites are in states with very different approaches to things like stay-at-home and school re-opening the needs of parents at different sites are different.

    1. JustaTech*

      Oh, and I guess another thing that’s hopefully helpful for parents is that our manufacturing is only at night, so it’s 12 hours shifts (so I think 3 or 4 shifts a week) which don’t overlap with school hours.

  39. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

    Right now, with everything being the absolute gong show that it is (we are two weeks from the start of school and there is a LOT of things that are still unknowns, still being negotiated with teachers, still figuring out the virtual platform, etc.), here is what my employer is doing RIGHT:

    “NotQuiteAnonForThis, please keep us in the loop, let us know what you need, and what we can do to support you at this time. We will work with you.”

    They’ve asked this question, quietly and individually, of each person in the office who replied to the EAP group email that went out (that’s another thing they did correctly in order to identify any “caregiver” at this time, they sent out an email survey that was opt-in to caregiver emails from the EAP group).

  40. maggggghie*

    I am fully remote (have been, always will be if I stay in it) but my husband is back in his office as he actually needs to build robot things instead of just design them on his computer at home. Pre-covid, my saintly and young-ish (mid fifties) mother-in-law would come to our house for childcare every day. 3.5 and 5yo were going to at least half day nursery school or pre-k last year but we also have 18mo twins. 5yo is now in virtual kindergarten, and my husband’s company has very thoughtfully agreed that she can do school at his office (total staff of 5). The admin was so great and has put up “stop-light” circles on the door frames to various spaces in the office – green means she can go in whenever she wants, yellow meaning only with dad, red meaning never aka the welding garage. We are only one week in but everything seems good so far! The twins are in their extremely busy stage of toddlerhood and there was no way that my MIL could facilitate virtual school and be on top of them at the same time, and I am in calls all day.

  41. Kate*

    Our company is really putting their money where their mouth is with the “I don’t care where/when you work, as long as your work gets done” so that’s been really helpful for those of us with kids. My son is in his teens so he’s pretty self sufficient (currently asleep at almost 11am… must be nice). But the flexibility to block off time for the things that come up in the day and trying to coordinate schooling from home has been great. The other parents with small babies really appreciate it as well from what I’ve been told. We’re WFH for the foreseeable future so they’ve allocated a sizable stipend to get “whatever you need to make your life easier”. No receipts necessary, just buy whatever is going to help you at home, even if that’s your own personal snack cabinet, (really missing those tech company lunches/snacks right now….) and loaner laptops for kids doing remote schooling if needed.

  42. Chicago*

    My firm reallocated the year end bonus pool to provide parents a stipend we could use to pay for childcare or online school expenses. My husband is a stay at home parent who occasionally freelances so while we don’t need childcare the stipend was still nice to get and it created a lot of goodwill towards the firm.

    1. Jen*

      Is this everyone’s bonus pool? Because as a non parent I can’t say I wouldn’t be miffed to see my potential bonus going to people who admittedly don’t need it for their childcare expenses.

      1. WFHinNH*

        Agreed – as a parent, I don’t like the dynamics of reallocating bonus money towards only one group. Many people are going through a rough time right now, and people have caregiving or other obligations that require money outside of having children.

  43. BookLady*

    I work at a university that has given caregivers extra PTO hours (I’m not sure how they determine who is a caregiver and who isn’t–it might just be the honor system… and presumably your manager who approves your timecard will know if you’re a caregiver).

    Between 9/1 and 12/31, employees get 60 hours of paid time off to care for children or elders. Unused hours are forfeited.

    If you do the math, 60 hours is less than 4 hours a week–not even an hour a day. So for people with school-age children at home, it might not end up being very much, but at least it’s something!

  44. Joielle*

    I’m in state government and we have paid “COVID leave,” which is unlimited as far as I know. You can take it for your own illness, family member’s illness, or caretaking responsibilities, and it doesn’t come out of your vacation or sick time. One of my coworkers took two months off earlier in the pandemic because her spouse had some essential projects at work and couldn’t take time off, and she needed to care for their five-year-old. I’m not sure how it’s being handled at other agencies, but at mine, people are being encouraged to use it as necessary. I don’t even have kids but it’s a HUGE weight off my shoulders to know that I can take whatever time off I need for COVID reasons and I won’t be penalized (financially or career-wise). The agency is still pretty much running at full capacity – there are probably a few low-priority projects on hold, but nothing major, and nothing in my department.

    Even if you’re not taking full COVID leave, we have flexible schedules so you can basically work whenever. I know a few people with kids are splitting the day with their spouse – so one person working mornings, the other working afternoons, and working a bit more on evenings or weekends as necessary. Our work is very siloed into independent projects, so this works just fine. When there are questions, people answer emails within a few hours, or the next morning, which is plenty fast.

    Work in the public sector: We don’t get paid that well, but the benefits are great!

  45. Leap Year Conspiracy*

    My company is in a female dominated industry – 80% women make up our workforce so this has been a pressing issues for us. We’re nonprofit so there are budget pressures on what we are able to do. What we are doing:
    1) Encouraging use of the COVID childcare leave provided by the government AND paying the 1/3 difference so no one has to take a pay cut.
    2) All working from home except for a few positions.
    3) Flexible schedules, letting staff get the work done on a schedule that works for them.
    4) Held listening sessions for parents so we can hear what they need. This led to us setting up an online space for them to connect with each other to share supports with the struggle, online learning and just vent.
    5) Reviewing options for how to get more leave to those who have already used their childcare leave or are out due to other FMLA events.

    Things we have considered are shorter work weeks (with no pay cuts) and setting up day care for staff but those are harder to pull off, particularly in short notice. What we heard from parents generally is that they felt very supported by our company, which was great to hear, and just being told at all levels “we support you and we’ll work with you” was huge.

  46. aurora borealis*

    We are very lucky that our company has allowed us to work from home indefinitely-even after the emergency orders are lifted and people will be getting back to normal. The only thing I have heard from my boss is “if you have an issue, let me know – we’ll work on it together until we find a solution that works for you”. This has been said to me personally even with my boss knowing my 3 kids are grown and live out of state, but I take care of my SO’s special needs son 24/7 at this time. (We are all still under a work from home EO from our mayor). I can’t say enough good things about our company.

  47. Alex*

    I work for an engineering firm that has largely male leadership/employees (I’m a woman) and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Pre-pandemic, there was a big emphasis on normalizing/encouraging paternity leave, and creating flexibility for dads to pick up their kids from school/drop them at daycare etc. Women also get those benefits, but I love the way they work to emphasize that dads should be doing half the parenting work from the very beginning. Skipping that leave is frowned upon for women and men.

    During the pandemic, almost all of us are working from home, and there’s an explicit policy that so long as you get your work done, it doesn’t matter what hours you’re working, so long as you alert your team so they know what to expect. Our CEO held a company-wide meeting in preparation for school starting to tell us that they’re making an official policy that you can ask to become part time during the pandemic and get part time wages but full time benefits, which is huge. On our team level, my manager expects parents with kids will be adjusting to the school year, and we have weekly check-ins where people can announce if they’re taking a schedule change.

    1. Maggie*

      Part time hours with full time benefits is HUGE. My husband works in construction and has never worked at a company that offers any benefits in 20+ years, even with the ACA (because the company is too small). So while we’ve considered dropping my hours, it’s too risky to lose all our benefits. This may be small for companies, but huge to families.

  48. Old Admin*

    I’m thinking of a recent horrible post and struggling not to blare in all out snark….. *loses battle of wills*….
    “Simple! Put your kids and their homework in the public library! The librarians will take care of them all day, feed them lunch, supervise their online schoolwork, do **absolutely everything** while you go back to work!!!”
    [end sarcasm]

    Sorry, could not resist… these times are terrible, and in some cases bring out the worst in people. And employers.

    1. Quill*

      Librarians, teachers, we’re just going to drop your kids on whichever one will accept their germs!

  49. BRR*

    I work for a public university and the governor of our state declared in March that basically if a child’s school or childcare facility closes, parents can work remotely if possible while watching their kids. I just checked and it appears to still be in effect. 5 months in, the way I’ve seen it play out in my department is parents are being granted a lot of flexibility in terms of their work schedule. I.e. do what you can during the day and there’s some expectation to work in the evening.

    For output, I think there’s basically an unspoken agreement that there are lower expectations but nothing official. My own observation is that all of the parents have roles with broader timelines for goals so it seems like “get this done by this date however you need.” As a non-parent, so not the best judge, I think it’s the best realistic thing that could be offered by our employer.

  50. Jenny F. Scientist*

    Ours has offered a stipend to lower-paid employees. It’s only $1000, but it’s better than nothing. They’ve been pretty flexible about work arrangements for anyone who *can* work remotely, but it’s still rough on, e.g., the maintenance staff.

  51. Blisskrieg*

    We are not doing anything official, but I have not met a manager that has not been flexible and understanding. Kids in the background on conference calls and extra household noise is not frowned upon at this time. As a manager, I have been checking in with my direct reports and let them know that if they need a flexible schedule or unavailable time during the day to help with school to please let me know and we’ll work something out.

  52. anon this time*

    My company is being flexible and allowing people to work from home as long as they need, and being understanding about disruptions or odd work hours. So far, everyone has been great about it and this is from a company that is generally very “you have to be at your desk”. Only about 4-5 people are coming in to the office regularly and that’s by choice (it’s all stuff that can be done remotely, but honestly a lot of people are more productive in their familiar office space & setup, amiright?).

    A friend’s (very large) company recently added a $100/week childcare stipend to help people who need to hire someone or who need extra childcare. I thought that was AMAZING!

    1. AnonInTheCity*

      A stipend like that would be amazing. We’d obviously be paying for childcare anyway, but we’re not comfortable sending our 10 month old to daycare yet and have been doing in-home care which is more expensive.

  53. LifeBeforeCorona*

    We have one employee with young children and she is the front office person. She works from home whenever she can and when she can’t the director fills in for her. It’s a win/win because they get to see what goes on out front. Several other people will be trained to fill her position for the days when she and the director are unavailable. Also, if COVID strike the office then everyone should know the processes for peforming other duties.

  54. StressedButOkay*

    My company has designated certain days of the week to be meeting free (for internal meetings) to allow parents the flexibility they need with schooling and child care. They’re also encouraging everyone to set schedules that work for them and their family. As long as the work gets done, if you work two hours at 6 a.m., break for four, and then continue on, they don’t care – they just ask that alerts be set so someone who isn’t working that schedule can see when they can reach you.

    And the folks in our office who aren’t parents are also encouraged to do this, as well. Need to go grocery shopping at 10 a.m. to avoid crowds? Great, just make up the time.

    We’re also remote through the end of 2020 and most likely through the start of 2021 and from the sounds of it, might go full remote for a long time after.

  55. Rockin Takin*

    I’m a production Supervisor in life sciences. We still have our rigid schedule, but have accommodated a couple people if that schedule did not work with their current childcare. Like one worker could only be here 6 hrs and we paid her for 8. Anyone who has no way to care for their child or dependent family member has gone on temporary paid leave.
    We also offer some emergency babysitting through but it’s only like a week’s worth.

    1. AnonInTheCity*

      My neighbor is a lab researcher and her work offered that emergency babysitting that she used once or twice. She said it was not great, like the person came to her house and literally just…sat there with the baby and didn’t interact with her at all. I don’t know if that’s a widespread issue or if she was just unlucky with the person she got.

  56. Jay*

    My company created “liberal leave” – basically if you need to take time off because of COVID, you can take it without doing the FMLA paperwork. It’s still unpaid. They’ve also essentially suspended rules about giving notice before you take PTO and have been very flexible about what hours people work when that’s possible – we have to be available 8-5 for incoming phone calls so there’s not a whole lot of flexibility for most people. Our local leadership has been very accepting of the appearance of pets and kids on Zoom calls as long as we stay muted when necessary. I’ve really enjoyed getting to see people’s pets! Turns out several of my coworkers live on farms. One day we got a tour of the horses and sheep from of our coordinators.

  57. schnauzerfan*

    Our university has been very good about letting folks know what FMLA and all of the new leave policies mean for us. They are also keeping a close eye on what the local school systems are doing and making sure that parents have the flexibility they need if their kids are in school. I don’t have kids, but I have an elderly mother living in my home, so I’m working my reference desk remotely. Drop in zoom, some scheduled zoom classes and meetings and email mostly. I go in at my convenience to drop things off and pick things up. Teaching faculty are encouraged to offer at least some of their courses remotely and some in person, but if you can’t do in person, no worries. The people who need to be present, facilities, some IT, some of the library staff, etc., have the flexibility to work the hours that work for them. If your situation is so messed up that you can’t work at all, you may take leave at (I think) 2/3s of your usual salary for some period of time.

  58. Person from the Resume*

    I don’t have kids, but my organization has generous sick leave and annual leave benefits especially for long term employees. Given that the LW’s company’s production workers can’t work from home I think the best thing beside some sort of childcare benefits or generous leave/PTO so the workers can use their PTO when needed to help with the kids. Be as flexible as you can with hours, maybe some workers go part time or split shifts.

    Unfortunately a production worker might have a low salary and can’t afford unpaid time off, but I don’t know, these could be well paid, skilled production workers. But flexibility within reason may be the best thing you can do for your employees.

  59. Names changed for privacy*

    For the OP – like you, I work in manufacturing, and the one thing that I wish my company would do is ask us how we’re doing and what we need. Maybe you can’t solve the problems, but boy it would be nice to be asked. With the hierarchies at play in your average manufacturing plant, specific questions answered privately/anonymously are a lot better than a vague “let us know what you need” open door. Even if you only get 30-50% participation, that’s still more detailed information than you’re going to get by guessing. (I know this isn’t about what my company is actually doing well, but I hope if qualifies as a useful suggestion and not a rant)

    1. KatieHR*

      OP here, I just posted a survey for our Production employees to see what they need and what struggles they are having. We have over 2000 employee that work out productions lines across company. It is a big struggle. Especially because most people are posting that they are able to WFH. These employees can’t work from home and the company has been supportive but once school kicks in, a lot is virtual in our area, the call outs are going to increase. It is really tough.

      1. Names changed for privacy*

        On some level, it just sucks. That’s maybe not helpful, but it’s reality. Whatever you can do is going to be better than nothing. One thing that did occur to me… you’re right, call outs are likely going to increase. Can your production schedulers, powers that be, etc start to plan now for reduced productivity? Trying to play catch-up to meet order commitments is only going to make the problem worse. Good luck, fwiw I think you’re doing great.

  60. Archaeopteryx*

    Healthcare job- our company is offering a stipend to cover any childcare expenses which are above what employees would normally pay. So, if your normal daycare was open or if the same family member can take care of your kid as in the Before Times, you wouldn’t qualify, but if you had to pay extra or if you had to pay for a nanny or for a family member (who doesn’t live with you) to stop working and care for your kid, Company is paying for it.

    They rolled this out in March as soon as the schools closed, and originally tried to end it in July (I don’t know why). But I think they realized that especially with school being virtual this year, it would gut our staff if they stopped, so they actually just emailed us today that they’re continuing this benefit.

  61. Ranon*

    I would also encourage the OP and anyone else in a similar position to get familiar, if they can, with what their local school districts are doing for the school year- some are requiring 4 hours per day of synchronous virtual learning which basically requires a caregiver to be present and supervising during those exact hours for younger kids, whereas others have shorter or more flexible plans that might lend themselves to different accommodations. And some haven’t announced their plans at all, yet.

  62. Shemhazai*

    Something tangible your company might be able to do is help with technology/devices/school supplies for families doing virtual schooling.
    Things like: making sure remote workers have a company-issued laptop, so they don’t have to share their personal laptop during the day and their kids can use it for school. Going through old cables, headsets, microphones, etc in the supply closets and offering them to employees’ kids. Same with office supplies like paper, pens, staplers, and scissors. My old office had literally boxes of vendor-branded notepads and pens lying around that never got used.

  63. DarthMom*

    We are a behavioral health agency with a children’s residential treatment center, so we have to have staff around the clock… and lots of our workers are single parents or folks with young families. When COVID first hit, the director of residential and I (I’m in HR) put together a makeshift daycare on our campus for kids of staff – which was relatively easy to staff then, since all of our schools were closed, so we had high school and college kids staff it, along with a few school support staff who were also off work. We paid the daycare staff and our employees were not charged to bring their kids. This went for 3 weeks, until daycares were shut down state-wide, except for kids of healthcare workers. At that point, we made sure that our staff connected with local daycare options, etc. It was all crazy and a little terrifying, quite frankly, but it was really fun to work with other leaders in the organization to care for our staff like that. And we had team members crying happy, appreciative tears, because of what we were doing for them. It was one of my best memories as a leader.
    Now, schools are back in session, with lots of varying options for families to navigate. We are flexing schedules and working with parents to help them figure out how to manage if their kids are at home. As I type this, I am sitting at my kitchen table, working remotely because my own kiddo is schooling remotely this year, because my boss, our CEO is a leader worth following. I am truly blessed to work at an agency that cares so much about the staff.

  64. Jh*

    Although it’s not a lot, one way my workplace is helping parents is assigning ‘meeting free days’. So everyone at work has been told not to schedule meetings on those days so parents can have a relief. There are other things too but I’m not savvy to them.

  65. Hats Are Great*

    I work for a very small company — 10 employees — where we provide coverage 24/7, and only two of us have kids. They shifted OUR ENTIRE WORKDAY SHIFT TIMES so the two of us with kids could tag-team with our partners. My husband and I are both remote; he works 8 to 4, and then I work 4 to midnight. (It’s not awful; we work 8-hour “coverage” shifts which are sort-of like being on call, with an expectation that we’ll work in about 4 hours of substantive work during that time (unless there’s a LOT of disasters we have to attend to). So I generally just do the coverage stuff when my kids are still up and I can chat or watch a family movie, as long as my laptop is right with me, and then do the substantive work once they’re in bed.) I’m a night owl by nature so this works really well for me.

    My co-workers have also been really great about switching shifts or providing emergency coverage if I have a kid problem, although we always do that for each other with regular illnesses or aging parents or sick pets.

    This week is back to school, so a coworker proactively offered to take some of the more detail-oriented, tedious tasks off my plate this week, figuring I’d be exhausted and stressed from getting remote learning going and could use an easier work-week.

  66. Quinalla*

    My company is allowing folks to rearrange their schedules basically however they need. We are salaried, so were already somewhat flexible, but now it is 100% flexible as long as work gets done – so people are working early in the morning, late at night, etc. as they need to. That said, expectations are lowered on (a) what people can get done in the same amount of time – this is for everyone not just parents and (b) how many hours people can work – again for everyone, but helps parents a lot of course. I haven’t heard of anyone going part-time, but I’m sure that could be negotiated if someone wanted to do so.

    We’ve also been trying to reset client expectations. Something we could normally turn around in a day might take two now, etc.

    We are WFH so that is a little different, but whatever flexibility or shifting of schedules you can do to accommodate childcare lack will help for sure.

  67. COBOL Dinosaur*

    I work for a health insurance company with about 1500 people. We have a wide range of jobs here from people that take phone calls, sales, IT (where I am), nurses as well as our maintenance people and cafeteria workers. Right away the company put a plan into place to transition everyone who could work at home (and wanted to). They did this in phases (took time to get all the equipment and network set up to handle it). We’ve been in what they are calling a soft close. I can still go into the office and work in my cubicle if I wanted to (and a few people choose to do this). Masks are required in any area other than your cubicle.

    For those of us in non customer facing jobs we’ve been able to flex our schedules as needed. For back to school the company is expanding the company service hours and setting up 2 different shifts. This is mainly for the large numbers of people that take phone calls from our members. They can pick whichever shift works best for them and if neither of them are perfect then they will work with the person to get it as ‘good as possible’.

    I feel very blessed to work for a company that cares about it’s employees!

  68. Data Analyst*

    My company is letting caregivers reduce their hours (not below 30, with corresponding reduction in salary) for the duration of the pandemic. I really appreciate that (although I don’t need it – yet) because all the “flex your hours, work whenever” type accommodations (which they are also offering) ignore the fact that if you’re a caregiver, your evenings aren’t necessarily any more free than your days.
    They’re also offering a separate bank of paid time off if your kid’s daycare closes due to Covid (although idk if that’s just in compliance with government regulations or something they did on on their own).

  69. TechWorker*

    In the U.K. there is an existing law around parental leave, where parents are entitled to up to 4 weeks paid leave a year (up to maximum of 18 weeks per child, before they turn 18). It’s the law so it’s not much (!) but my company allowed folks to take this as individual days rather than only as whole weeks to give more flexibility. Not paid… but better than nothing.

  70. Green Goose*

    We’ve had a lot of surveys go out to see who is a caregiver now. We’re doing staggered return to work and it seems like it’ll be pretty flexible for parents. I have a very young child so I don’t expect to be going back into the office until early 2021 at the earliest and I’ll probably request to delay as long as possible until my kiddo is a bit older.

  71. Michael Valentine*

    My partner’s company is offering back up care reimbursement. They actually always have the program but they increased the benefit by 300% to acknowledge we might need more of it. We have not taken advantage of it, but I made sure we completed the initial paperwork in case we need it.

    My own company has actively encouraged employees to reduce their hours using the FFCRA, and employees from jr. staff to senior leadership have used it. They’re also being more flexible in general with scheduling and there’s an extra level of “looking away”, so we feel no added pressure to pretend these are normal times. My kids are home with me and my partner, doing online school, and no one at work is batting an eye.

  72. Gaia*

    My company has been really flexible with everyone. Schedule needs to adjust? Do it. Child care/elder care/self care needs to take place during work time? Do it. Kid/dog/partner howling in the background of a Zoom call? No one blinks an eye.

    I don’t have kids, but you better believe I am watching how companies handle parents these days. It speaks clearly to the way they value people, they way they recognize that life sometimes comes at you sideways, and the way they understand that work isn’t the most important thing in our lives. It is bigger than just parents, it is about whether they see employees as humans or worker drones.

  73. Yet another Alison*

    I work from home and I can generally flex what I do, that by itself, is a huge help regardless of Covid.

    Where I live, children (and adults) with ANY signs or symptoms of Covid (cough, fever), even if they test negative, are required to stay home and isolate for 10 days, period. My husband’s job offers these 10 days of leave paid (either for him or if the children have to stay home), 14 days paid leave if it’s positive, and then short-term paid sick leave, if it continues in severity.

    It certainly takes a huge stress off our lives, going into the school year!

  74. Malarkey01*

    The big things are WFH and flex hours so that you can get your work done but at different hours (for example my husband takes a break from work between 10-1 and I take one from 1-5 between that and starting at 6 am we’re covering toddler care and work). I know that’s not possible with a lot of on-site jobs but allowing odd shift times so parents can coordinate care gaps helps.

    The other big thing is that if anyone needs part time or full time leave next year they can take it (unpaid) but their job will be kept open for them. We’ve had a lot of parents go part time.

  75. Cedrus Libani*

    I’m in tech. My team is on not-quite-official “stay home until you’re vaccinated” status, to help protect the ~25% of the company that does hardware stuff and has to be on-site.

    We already had three people working half-time – two recent mothers, one soft retirement. At least two more people with young children have joined the club. There’s a loss of salary, but they were paying for childcare before, and the company lets them keep their benefits.

  76. valprehension*

    I work for a public library system. Because we’ve been shut down since March, we were fully work-from-home for a couple of months, and while we technically had scheduled work hours they weren’t monitored and those of us with kids got our work done whenever we could and it was fine. We’ve been slowly transitioning back to working in-branch (curbside service has been operational since May, and branches will start opening to the public in September). I have noticed that some people who I have childcare or elder care responsibilities right now (that they didn’t have in non-covid times) are on altered schedules, coming into the branches less often, and sometimes only on weekends (when, for instance, the other parent is free for childcare), but I think that’s entirely up to individual managers’ discretion.

  77. Hamburke*

    I’m able to be remote through at least the end of the year. This means having a remote system for me to login to. My company is small – 3 employees – and I’m part time so this flexibility is really helpful. My time is also flexible as long as I’m getting my work done and answering phone calls one day/week.

  78. WSH*

    Within my workgroup we are trying to support people individually by helping reassign/balance work when necessary to help someone who is really struggling with caregiving duties. But we are also worried about that not being sustainable and also potentially preventing caregivers from contributing at the same level or receiving the same growth opportunities. So we are also trying to strategize with upper management about ways to more systemically help – like providing more advance notice of meetings and reducing meetings when possible, and creating more predictable work processes so people can plan farther out if they need to arrange for childcare for a busy cycle… we are constantly trying to figure out systemic changes that can benefit not just the caregivers, but all staff. And it will really depend on how our leadership chooses to adopt any changes as to whether we make any significant progress.

  79. Heat's Kitchen*

    Our company is doing good things.

    Encouraging talks with managers and HR Business Partners on alternative work arrangements (alt. schedules, 4 day weeks, etc.)
    Generally able to flex work.
    Giving options of leaves of absences.
    6 days COVID leave for childcare (we are 3,000 employees so dn’t fall under other govt regulations in the US)
    General understanding that kids may be home/on camera during work hours

    overall, I’m happy. My four year old is in half day 4K. We’ve pulled him from daycare and he’ll be home with me in the morning. I’ve blocked off times I’ll have to get him to school/from the bus stop. I’ll probably put in some work at night. My boss is very understanding and lets us all know the order of our priorities needs to be ourselves/family, clients, the company – in that order. Not necessarily exclusive of each other, but take care of our families first.

  80. Non-profiteer*

    I work at a nonprofit that is thankfully able to maintain operations while giving people a lot of flexibility. Not many coverage issues, etc. So they are majorly emphasizing flexibility in hours. It’s also totally the norm to have kids on the webcams, etc. and no one bats an eye. A couple weeks ago there was a decree from management that every manager was to talk to each employee during their one-on-one meetings about what flexibility in hours, etc. the employee needs. I am currently pregnant with my first, so I don’t need much flexibility now. But we did talk about how it is okay for me to go for multiple walks during the workday – as multiple short walks is good for me right now. And we also talked about hours post-maternity leave. I got my boss to agree that even if the world is back to normal by then, I could still do a partial telework schedule!

  81. Amtelope*

    We’re teleworking right now and trying to focus more on results than hours worked. If people need to flex their hours around child care responsibilities, that’s fine. If they can get their work done in less than 7.5 actual hours in front of the computer, that’s (as far as I’m concerned as a manager, although company-wide HR might disagree) also fine. If people sometimes need to skip calls/meetings, that’s OK. It helps that we’re an education-adjacent industry, and pretty firmly committed to supporting parents’ participation in their kids’ education.

  82. LunaLovegood*

    My company just announced that everyone will get 5 extra personal days to be used at our discretion this year. While this doesn’t solve the day-to-day childcare crisis, it does give me some extra flexibility for days when my child our nanny is sick, and that’s a huge help to me. My direct supervisor is also being as flexible as possible with our work schedules, allowing us to work early mornings, evenings, and weekends if necessary. It’s not fun, but it prevents several of us from having to take a leave.

  83. agnes*

    our workplace gave all front line essential workers who cannot work remotely between 60-160 extra paid leave hours (based on the number of hours they worked during the emergency declaration in our state). Our employees can also access the FFCRA. That has really helped.

  84. alannaofdoom*

    My company is now fully remote for all office positions through the end of the year at least. I can’t speak to specifics for younger kids who would need supervision while their parents work from home, since my team is all childless or have kids in college. But leadership at all levels has been very vocal about encouraging people to flex their schedules as necessary, and have been open and understanding when kid noise is heard on a conference call or when people need to take days off or work a split or shifted schedule. Yesterday they shared a compilation of crowd-sourced “kids watching company all-hands webcasts” photos during a meeting, which was very cute.

  85. Raea*

    So while this is not a perfect solution by any means, I’ve been relatively impressed with how my employer has handled this aspect of the pandemic. For our manufacturing facilities my employer has partnered with a child care chain to offer reduced rates and coverage of after-hours extended care (usually comes with an insanely expensive upcharge, and of course the daycare places define ‘after hours’ as anything after the blue hair special o’clock). They are also working with employees on a case by case basis to find individualized home care for those with children with special needs that do not have their typical options available to them.

    Unfortunately there really aren’t any resources for those that need to be in person for their job (virtually all of the manufacturing facility roles) but are not comfortable/interested in/able to leave their children at the daycare provider’s facilities and do not have other childcare options. I honestly don’t even know what they could do to help as they are already offering bonuses in addition to their standard pay (we are not in an essential industry so no hazard pay) and are not in a financial position to offer significant raises or funds to cover individual babysitters for all (in addition to some employees also not being comfortable with that). I would love to hear if anyone has come across a realistic solution to this.

    On the white collar side, everyone that can work from home has been since March and will continue to on an indefinite basis as they continue to test out small volunteer groups returning to the office. They’ve stressed that anyone facing childcare challenges will be worked with to find an arrangement that works for all, and the expectation at this point is that they will continue to work from home even after the rest of us return to the office. Eventually I imagine it will hit a breaking point if after, for example, another year passes and we still have people saying they have access to child care but are not comfortable utilizing it as they have also made it clear that they will not entertain the option of shutting down head quarters permanently and moving everyone remote and/or reclassifying people permanently as remote (we have flex schedules and can WFH at least 2 days a week, so they aren’t strict in that regard – just feel strongly about keeping an in-person office environment).

    1. KatieHR*

      This is what I have run into as well. Employees who don’t want to put their children in a childcare center but still need to be at work. I am not sure what the solution for that is. There is a website called Helpr that will allow an employee to use their FSA childcare account to pay a family member or friend to watch their children. We don’t have the DCAP but I am working on it for next fiscal year.

  86. Fanny Mae*

    My company has exempted parents from working overtime. There has been some extra hours needed because we do have essential projects that can’t wait but those with kids don’t stuck working late or on weekends. It has definitely made things easier for me at home.

  87. Long Time Fed*

    It seems like our agency is giving people with young children lots of flexibility (which is great) and shifting workloads to people without young children (not so great).

  88. Nerfmobile*

    My company (a large international tech firm, though not one of the everyday names) is offering 12 hours a week paid time off to any parent who needs it for supervising remote learning. Non-exempt employees need to log it, while exempt employees only need to report it if they need to take a whole day off. This is new, starting this month. Before this, they’ve been very understanding of people flexing their schedules due to child care/schooling needs during this time. I am SO HAPPY overall with how they have handled this whole COVID-19 thing.

    1. Nerfmobile*

      Just noting because I wasn’t explicit. With extremely few exceptions, we’ve all been working from home full-time since March, and the majority of people are expected to continue doing so through at least the end of the year.

      Our CEO’s kids have more than once barged in on him conducting an all-hands!

  89. Dream Jobbed*

    I work for the county and the county government came up with a brilliant solution – all the county library employees will be providing day care for our children! This works great because their staff is mostly women and they are used to having kids in the public libraries all the time! I can drop off my three kids at 7:30am, pick them up at 5:3pm and it doesn’t cost me a dime! Which is great since my kids are ADHD and like to scream …. a lot! Now I don’t have to deal with that while trying to work. Plus, with the extended hours I can go to Happy Hour every day at 4 with my co-workers. Win-Win!!!

    (Yes, I am totally kidding.)

  90. Re'lar Fela*

    I work for a small human services non-profit that operates an emergency shelter, so agency leadership struggled at first to adjust to COVID needs. Pre-COVID, there was very much a “butts in the seat” mentality across the agency, even for administrative support staff. That attitude carried over into the early days of remote work. For instance, at one point we had to document on our shared calendar every time we were “out of office” while working from home. I’m the single parent of a toddler, so at one point my calendar was something like:

    In office 7:45-8:30
    OOO 8:30-9
    In office 9-9:45
    OOO 9:45-10:15
    In office 10:15-12
    Lunch 12-12:30
    …and so on

    It was a rough adjustment. However, we recently learned that those of us who typically work in the administrative office will be working remotely until at least January. At that point, it was expressed that leadership understands the needs of parents and is allowing flexible schedules, undocumented, as long as we are available by phone if needed during core hours. So essentially the solution is that I work in the morning before my kid gets up and at night after she’s in bed. I also–against my better judgment–signed her up for preschool 3 hours a day, which has helped immensely. We’ll see how long it lasts (we’re in the top 20 cities for increasing case numbers currently, so I’m not holding my breath).

    At any rate, the biggest thing that agency leadership has done is to directly and clearly express their support for working parents. Even though it doesn’t actually do anything to address the issue, it’s a huge mental load that I’ve been able to drop, which has cleared my brain space to focus on actual productivity rather than anxiety.

  91. Ann Perkins*

    This thread is giving me good ideas of what to ask for as the winter approaches. I work for a small employer and am the only one with young children other than my boss/the head boss. It’s been benign neglect up until now – we used to be very old school, butts in seat mentality but now there’s no issue if I need to WFH during a daycare closure. I’ve been fortunate that our daycare has stayed open this whole time because we have two kids under the age of 4 so WFH is… not very productive with them around. But boss isn’t really batting an eye so long as I’m not totally out of reach.

    That being said – I’m getting worried as the winter approaches and how often my kids might get sent home if even one of them has a runny nose or cough, whereas previously they wouldn’t get sent home for mild cold symptoms as long as there was nothing accompanying it like a fever or stomach issues. I might ask for our entire staff to get an extra week of personal days and see how that flies, as a way to make sure people know they should stay home if at all ill (we have no separate sick time bucket).

  92. Feedback*

    Stipend for child care, continue working from home, allowing caregivers to work non-traditional hours (i.e., 8am-10am and then 3pm-9pm) or whatever works for their schedules

  93. Green Door*

    I work from home and have certain flexibility…as long as I’m checking voice mail and email and responding relatively quickly, I can defer the rest of my tasks until later in the day or even “after hours” when my kids don’t need me to be hands on for virtual learning.
    Obviously this isn’t the kind of flexibility you could extend to production workers. But, does your place have more than one shift? Could you offer first-shifters the option to meet their production expectations by working a a different shift? Could you offer workers the option to trade shifts (keeping shift premiums intact)? Could you offer weekend hours that could be worked in lieu of some of the Mon-Fri days?

  94. Francois*

    At the risk of making everyone envious, my (large tech) company expanded carer’s leave for parents who need to take care of kids (or other family members) who don’t have other options. You sign up for it like sick leave, either for full days or by the hour. So far, the limit has been extended as pandemic progressed and hasn’t been an issue. Time spent in carer’s leave is paid and not counted against you performance-wise. Culture is such that I (naively?) expect the latter to be at least partly true in practice. I also haven’t heard of the policy being abused.

    It’s hard to do better from the employee’s point of view, but not many companies has enough resources (financial & human) to make this work.

  95. Rara Avis*

    I work at a private school. They are setting up free childcare for school-age (K-8) children of employees, whether or not they attend the school already. The problem is that they have to get licensed by the state as a pop-up childcare (evidently being a school is not sufficient to also provide childcare, even though it’s the same facilities, staffed by people who have already passed all the requirements to work at the school, and almost all kids registered at the school). The state licensing agency is apparently besieged with requests, so we’re two weeks in and childcare might start on Monday.

  96. Just a Llama watching the drama*

    Since going remote indefinitely an interesting dynamic has developed with my company. My employer has been unbelievably kind in adding unlimited time off for Covid-19. This has allowed one colleague take care of her mother when she contracted the illness without worry around work. It has also allowed parents to time shift or work less to home school or take care of their children. However, coworkers without children have been vocal that this is unfair to them. HR has stated that any need pretaining to Covid-19 will be paid time off but there is still some division and resentment between staff.

  97. Nita*

    My company cut everyone’s hours from 40 to 32 in March, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. They’ve just announced we’re being brought back to 40 hours, which is awesome for everyone – but they first privately asked everyone if they’re able to go back to 40. And if you can’t, the door is open to increasing one’s hours down the road, which is great because hopefully the school situation will become clearer in a few weeks. My husband is a city worker. They’re supposedly soon getting a survey to see who has school aged kids, and those employees will be allowed to keep working from home if possible (this was, until recently, unheard of for city work).

    It’s not making the problem go away, but it’s taking it from “one of us won’t be able to hold down a job” to “we’re not sleeping any more but at least the lights will stay on.”

  98. Ellie*

    My company let us know back in March that they’d rather take a drop in productivity, than to have our company on the news as the next Covid hotspot, and they ordered everyone who can work from home to do so, laptops, etc. provided. For those who are left at the office, there’s hand-sanitiser at the entrance of every doorway, cleaners now come in three times a day, and about half the desks are roped off to maintain social distancing.

    People can choose to work from home with their regular hours while looking after children, or can stagger their hours in whatever way makes sense for them. We have an additional 10 days of special paid leave on top of our regular leave to access, and there’s an option to temporarily reduce hours for less salary if none of those options work, or to purchase additional leave so the cost is spread out over the rest of the year. Also, the old requirement to get a doctor’s certificate for 2 or more sick days in a row has been waived, as has the requirement to have daycare in place when working from home.

    Apart from the occasional screaming child in the background on calls, its been wonderful. We are finally being treated as trusted adults, who can manage their own affairs. I don’t know how I’m going to go back to the old way actually.

  99. loyal employee forever*

    I keep meaning to write in about everything my company is doing for good news Friday. The things they’re doing to support parents include:
    – “pandemic leave” that can be taken in 4 hour chunks, can be used as sick leave or taking care of someone sick or dependent care
    – subsidized childcare from Care dot com
    – increased company contribution to dependent care FSA
    – lots of support in brainstorming solutions for working with kids at home in HR seminars and employee resource groups (the most helpful piece of advice for me personally so far was that when doing remote schooling with more than one kid, focus on getting the older one set up first, even if it means younger ones have a hard time participating for the first few days, because if they get a good start then they’ll be more likely to be able to work independently ongoing)
    – managers are encouraged to be extremely flexible in working with employees on alternate schedules like hours shifting or 4/10s, even allowing employees to go part time if that works for the team’s workload.

    I can see how some of these might feel overwhelming for companies to implement, but the good news from a company level is that we’re doing far, far better financially than many others in our industry. I truly believe a lot of that is because our employees have the support they need to do their best work and be highly productive. Treating employees well pays off.

  100. LittleMissProjectManager*

    Mine and my husband’s companies have allowed us to flexi-work for the time-being and we’re managing to fit it in a full day of work each. My husband starts work at 7am and I’m on baby duty until we swap at 12:30, then I work a little into the evening. We also get an hour of work in each while our son naps. We just had to communicate to our clients/coworkers what our working patterns would be so expectations could be managed.

  101. Behind The Times*

    Everyone in my organization is WFH since March, which is great. But I’m with the federal government and only up until recently we were still expected to work our “core hours” in the middle of the day. Meetings have increased dramatically and while there’s a lot of talk about how badly they feel for working parents, the truth is that a very small minority of employees (I think only 10 of us out of 140) in my organization have young kids so we’ve been an afterthought. Thankfully my immediate supervisor has been very flexible.

    We don’t qualify for the federal relief act and we’re expected to use our accrued leave if we work anything less than 40 hours in a week. I’m seeing how supportive other companies have been here (daycare, admin time off to assist with schoolwork, complete flexible schedules) and I’m not gonna lie; I’m jealous.

  102. NotJennifer*

    I am still working from home, and when there isn’t childcare working strange hours and filling in the gaps with FFCRA. My employer is also a manufacturing facility, but we actually are the entire company (not just the manufacturing part) in one space, so there are a lot of us with desk jobs, who can actually work from home. I honestly don’t know how accommodations work with people in positions that can’t be done from home, though thinking about the demographics, most or all of the people in those positions at my employer are people without young kids at home. I know that in the past my employer has shifted roles for people who need accommodations for health reasons (recovering from surgery, etc), and I suspect that they would do something similar for people in hands-on positions who need to work from home right now.

    My employer has it built right into their mission to do things like this, and has shown only flexibility and understanding through this whole thing, as well as other times I’ve needed to take leave in the past. Right now it would almost be a burden for them for me to want to come back to working in the office, because they are still observing social distancing, and keeping desks quite far apart and far from regular foot traffic. So things have been rearranged, and will need to be rearranged again when it feels safe to ask everyone to come back in. We are no there yet, and with school starting and a lot of unknowns, don’t anticipate on being there any time soon.

    I do feel a little uneasy that most of my co-workers with elementary aged or younger children have more support than I do, either from spouses who also have flexible working arrangements, family nearby, or both the ability and willingness to pay for private nannies or send their children to big kid daycare groups when they are not in school. Or have kids in one of the few schools that is starting out with full in-school hours. (Most of the local schools are starting with hybrid, which is 2 days a week.) My company is small enough that I can mentally go through all the co-workers and their kids, and have come to the conclusion that I might be the only person here who is doing home learning with her kid three days a week without support. (My spouse has a job that is demanding and essential, and is out of the house 10-12 hours a day.) So far so good, and it’s probably just my anxiety making me feel worried about this. My child has some special needs that make it a bad idea to send them to some other place with a whole new group of kids and less direct academic support the 3 days a week they aren’t in school, so this is how it needs to be. My one big piece of advice to employers is to keep in mind that their employees might have reasons like this for not taking advantage of childcare resources that are unable or unqualified to take care of special needs. And you may not necessarily know if your employees’ children have special needs. So please give the flexibility to let employees keep their kids home if they feel it is best, because it can be really complicated to do otherwise.

  103. No wrestling someone into the cart*

    Pay the subscription fee for a grocery delivery service! I signed up for $100 and get free delivery for every order over $35 – which is pretty easy to do with the cost of groceries these days. This saves me at least two hours per trip, plus the groceries show up at my door instead of me lugging them in from the parking lot. And it reduces my COVID exposure (I do tip my shoppers well because I know they’re taking the hit for me). Best of all, this is a perfect support for parents and non-parents alike!

  104. EngineerMom*

    My husband and I both have flexible work at the same company, so we’re able to work from home, and have been able to switch off with each other when one of us (usually me) absolutely has to go into work. We’re allowed to take any needed equipment (monitors, docking stations, etc.) home from the office. All we have to do is let IT know that we did that.

    If we do come onsite, there’s mandatory temperature screening, then we’re provided with a wristband and mask. Manufacturing folks are tested (for free) every week. (My company makes blood testing supplies, including working on developing Covid tests, and they really, really do NOT want the labs to get contaminated with Covid.)

    They encourage anyone who can stay home to do so, to help protect the folks who can’t. There’s very much a “we’re all in this together, let’s help each other out” vibe. They’ve been much more open to people swapping shifts as necessary to help maintain childcare coverage at home.

    My good friend who live across the street is about to start working 7:30am-1:30pm as a 2-3 year old preschool teacher. Her husband’s job has allowed him to basically swap shifts so he’s home until she gets home at 1:30, then he works 2-10 in the evenings. It kind of sucks, since it means he’s never home for dinner with the family, but they’re making it work until his mom can come live with them in a few weeks to provide in-home care (their kids are in 1st and 6th grade, 100% distance learning).

    My company has also done the following:
    1. Expanded paid parental leave to 8 weeks of 100% pay per employee for either birth or adoption.
    2. Expanded their sick leave policy (60 hours per year) to include child care and elder care needs related to facility closures (schools or day care facilities).​ Previously this really only covered illness of the employee or their child who needed to stay home from school.
    3. Discounts through places like Bright Horizons, Kindercare, Sitter City, and help finding a nanny
    4. Discounts and some free options (2 free hours of tutoring per week, plus a discount) for in-home learning.
    5. Resource-finding help for in-home eldercare, including day care and backup care.
    6. Help with medical issues (basically, help with billing issues, medical claims, and patient advocacy when caring for yourself or a relative).
    7. Discounts on things like meal deliveries such as Blue Apron, computer equipment, etc.
    8. Employee Assistance Program that can help navigate work-life balance issues. I made use of this in July when I felt like I was going to have a mental health crisis from all the stress. It helped a lot just feel heard and talk through some things I could do and speak with my manager about.

    I think the biggest thing the company I work for has done is just to be compassionate. Across the board, even though we’re ramping up to get some Covid tests into production, they’ve been willing to work with their employees across the board, to try to find a way to make home and work function together. We have had some of our onsite production folks leave because they couldn’t make the transition, but on the whole, we’ve retained a lot of people, and are trying to hire more.

  105. Working Momager*

    I work in crisis management (mental health), so our company has been under a lot of pressure to meet a variety of demands. But our company has been really incredible about supporting families, allowing flexible schedules, hand delivering meals (to near 100 employees!), offering kids kit subscriptions, and establishing a parents group to identify new ways to support families. We’ve been notified no one will be expected to return to the office if they don’t have reliable childcare or schooling.

  106. Josh S*

    My employer has recognized how difficult it is to source laptops/tablets for education right now, with a lot of backordered products, especially on the cheaper end of the spectrum. Last week, they sent out this:

    With the beginning of a new school year, we realize that many of our employees with school-aged children in grades K-12 are faced with the possibility of another year of remote learning.

    Some school districts are able to provide computers for students to use at home while other districts are not. A core value of [Company] is continuous learning and we realize how important having the proper tools is to guaranteeing success. We are exploring the idea of providing devices to your child(ren) in the event that their school is not providing a device and you do not have one for them.

    If you need a device for your child(ren) please notify your Human Resources Business Partner so that we can get an idea of how many would be required and whether our vendors are able to supply them. Please make sure to include your child(ren)’s age and name of school district in your request.

    We want to support your children to better engage, share, and participate in this new learning experience and it is our pleasure to work together to offer this support for our [company] family.

    It’s still not clear if the company would pay for these or just help by ordering them, but in either case, they’re trying to be helpful.

    Aside from the laptop issue, they’ve simply been very flexible with parents and child care, and encouraged managers throughout the organization to do the same. It’s shown.

  107. jamlady*

    We seem to have this sort of unofficial “do what you need to do” thing happening. People are scheduling things around their children, and no one is batting an eye. People can step away as needed, even hourly employees, and there is no tracking that leads to pay docking. My husband’s boss has a crying baby on every call – it is what it is, and my company is showing people a lot of grace.

  108. Aimee*

    Nothing organization wide, but my immediate manager is doing her best to accommodate childcare needs. We are required to work in specific pairs to minimized COVID spread but are only onsite every week to week-and-a-half. Some coworkers only have childcare availability on certain days (spouse works from home X weekdays or other family members are off work), so she is scheduling around those days.
    There is a push at the organizational level for these pairs to work an entire week at a time rather than a day. If that happens, I have multiple coworkers who will have to quit.

  109. swarles*

    One thing the company I work for has zone was set up an internal message board site that parents can use to find other parents in their neighborhood to share resources, create learning “pods” , etc – I don’t think it was super hard for the company to set up and just having a “safe” space to find others to pair with makes a difference.

  110. Confused*

    My work has been great, allowing us to be flexible: children can be seen in calls and we can work off hours. I’ve been working 4:45-9am while my husband watches my daughter on the 2 days a week we don’t have childcare. I then take her until lunch, just checking emails and answering calls as things come up. We both get to fully focus during her naptime, and I take her once she wakes up.

    Last week, they shared that we have to go into the office one day a week. It’ll be a date assigned to us (e.g. every Monday we have to go in). We will need to wear a mask all day. My communications department productivity has gone up during COVID because we haven’t been in the office and are able to better focus on our job with less distractions. My mom watches my daughter 3x a week, and my 93yo grandpa lives with her so I’m very worried about contracting COVID and giving it to my grandpa.

    I am so discouraged that they offered this great flexibility and now they are taking it away when numbers are increasing in our state. I’ll have to pack up my second monitor and bring it with me to work once a week. It’s beyond frustrating and unnecessary for my role. (I have been doing media activities as needed since June, but they have always been outside with masks and social distancing.) Our office has horrible ventilation, and I really don’t want to go back into the office until numbers improve. If it wasn’t safe in June when numbers were at our best, how is it safe now?

    A coworker and I emailed our COO (who oversees HR) with our concerns, and she has yet to respond 5 days later (yet she has responded to other emails of mine).

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