In recent news, Starbucks has announced that they will start to provide subsidized child and adult day care via for emergency situations for their employees.  This small, simple benefit can end up yielding huge financial and cultural benefits since 70% of workers have said they’ve had to take time off from work "or make other work adjustments because of caregiving."*

Here at EBC this got us thinking about Parental Flexibility, especially for Lachelle with her 18 month old daughter and Jessica, EBC’s Digital Marketing and Client Services Manager with her 10 month old son.  

Starting a family while also working on a career began with the best intentions. Then baby was born and all my plans were thrown out the window.  Going back to work full time was more physically and mentally painful than expected. On top of that, our new little one with his new immune system got sick about every other week and daycare do not allow sick babies.  But myself and my husband had zero sick or vacation days since they were all used during maternity leave. I suddenly understood the stresses of working full time and being a parent.  

I immediately start talking to other mothers at my job to see how they cope with this lifestyle, but they all had their own complaints that were similar to my own.  It all begins with this feeling that we didn’t have enough time with our newborns before we even had to return to work. The time off wasn’t just for the sake of our newborns but also for our own health.  Recovering from birth takes time especially if surgery is involved.

Through all this, I ended up needing and wanting to quit my job so that I could have the flexibility to take care of my family when they got sick and take care of myself both physically and mentally.  My husband also became stressed with the amount of time that his job was pulling him away from our new family. The whole situation became strained which is not how we intended to start a family.

Luckily for us, my husband was offered a job in an industry he always wanted to be in and I was fortunate enough to begin to work at EBC from anywhere I needed to be during hours that worked for my schedule.  We packed up our family and moved to a small town so that we could have the life we always imagined we could. I am so grateful for the opportunities we were given and the life we now have. But it pains me to still see so many women struggle with the same issues I did.  

It is a horrible thing to be stuck between your family life and career ambitions.  It is even worse when a company does not have policies that offers flexibility. While there are no federal laws that require companies to have parental leave or flexible hours, these benefits are becoming increasingly asked for by employees.  Especially in the age of globalism, people are realizing what other countries are offering their citizens and wondering why those benefits can’t be offered here. Low unemployment rates also means that companies are competing for employees rather than the other way around and therefore, benefits are becoming a top reason to apply for a job or choose one job over the other.  Companies no longer have the upper hand when recruiting the right employee and will need to start listening to the outcries for better parental and family-centric benefits.

The information below is provided by Lachelle:

Family Benefits

There is a law currently in place to provide job-protection for eligible employees who take time off work for certain family and medical reasons. This is the Family Medical Leave Act.  The DOL’s website description says “ The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.”

While this does offer job protection this only covers unpaid leave, therefore it would not be seen as a “fringe benefit”.  Also, only Employers with over 50 employees have to comply with this law so smaller employer groups are not required to provide any sort of family leave.  Lastly, this law has specific outlines for what type of leave is covered. The time off of work for a mother taking care of her child with chickenpox would qualify her under FMLA.  The time off for a mother who needs to take her child to the dentist would not.

In the interest of this article, what kinds of non-traditional employee benefits or “perks” can we think of that can be beneficial for new mothers, parents and families and are outside of the traditional benefit box?

  • Flexible time off which can be used interchangeably for illness, vacation or whatever the person needs time off for (parent teacher conference, doctor’s appointments etc)

  • Voluntary benefits – many voluntary benefits such as Accident products can cover spouses and children. This is especially useful for children who are active in sports and recreation.

  • Option to work at home – even if it is just for one day a week or several hours a month, having the option to work from home for a new mother or father can be huge. It can relieve the stress of leaving their family or finding a sitter.  Thanks to the technology of this generation, many tasks can be done at home via phone, email, skype and the like.

These offerings can be provided by any sized Employer, in any industry, in any state and could potentially be that one differentiating benefit that draws and retains the employee talent you seek.

For more information on the Family Medical Leave Act, please go to the Department of Labor’s Website.

If you’d like to brainstorm on new employee benefits for your group such as the ones mentioned in this article, please reach out to us at Joni or Lachelle.

CNN Article Regarding new care benefits:

*2016 study by the National Survey of Children's Health