Maybe Your Benefits Should Include Child Care

A recent survey by Clutch shows that only six percent of companies offer childcare benefits to employees. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 63 percent of American families with children have both parents working and that doesn’t take into account solo parents who have sole childcare responsibility.  The Clutch survey also found that 43 percent of working women in the workplace feel they do not have a fair chance to advance. Child care is expensive and can be an immense source of stress for families with children.

According to the Employers Council Miscellaneous Benefits and Pay Practices survey, 41 percent of employers in Colorado, 71 percent of employers in Arizona, 42 percent of Wyoming employers, and 45 percent of Utah employers offer no child care benefits at all. In all those states of the employers that do offer child care benefits, the majority provide a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) to offset expenses. Under IRS rules, each family can only put aside a maximum of $5000 a year for this plan. When you consider that, in some areas, childcare for a single child can cost up to $1500 a month, $5000 is not much money.

The lack of support for workers with children is a disconnect between employers’ benefits offerings and employee needs. Sick time, retirement plans, PTO, and HSAs (to name a few) are all benefits that offer financial support for employees. Employers might want to consider adding childcare benefits to that as well.

Some of the options listed in the Employers Council survey are a subsidy for child care expenses, back-up care programs, on-site child care, or an agreement with an off-site child care program. Before implementing new programs, employers should evaluate what they can afford, and if the programs will be of value and of use to employees. Also, flexible scheduling for some employees, and predictable scheduling for others, can help employees plan for future child care needs. Often an employer’s Employee Assistance Program can provide guidance. According to SHRM, some other options are paying for a nanny to accompany employees on work trips, paying for summer camps, and peer-to-peer mentorships and resource groups are other options.

Employers who offer benefits could gain a lot by adding child care options to their offerings. The financial and scheduling relief to employees would add to workplace satisfaction and reduce stress for parents in the workplace.