HR Management & Compliance

Supporting Parents in the Workplace: Childcare Benefits

Helping new parents return to the workforce can be a great benefit to employers and employees alike. Making the transition easier can enable more parents to continue working if they choose after expanding their family, benefiting everyone. This can also reduce an employer’s turnover costs and minimize workplace disruption.

One way to make the transition easier is to provide childcare benefits to employees. These types of benefits can take many forms. Here are some examples:

  • On-site day care, with options for full-time use and/or drop-in use (also known as backup child care in the latter case). Full-time on-site care would be the easiest for employees, especially if it is provided either free of charge or for significantly less than the cost of other providers. Parents never have to worry about where their children are and can see them on breaks and be there almost immediately if their children have a problem, which can ease stresses. But there are, of course, many considerations for employers taking on something like this, as it’s no small task.
  • Subsidies or vouchers for local daycare providers OR paid child care off-site. This is an option for employers that want to provide financial assistance for child care rather than have it on-site. This can be arranged through partnerships with other organizations and can be handled in many ways, some of which may qualify the employer for a tax credit from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if requirements are met.
  • Priority placement at local daycare facilities. In some areas, day cares fill up and have a waiting list for new children to attend. Partnerships with employers can give employees priority placement on these lists.
  • Extra paid time off (PTO) or other form of parental leave to handle childcare issues or emergencies.
  • Flexible work hours, which can give parents much more leeway in making childcare arrangements or provide time to handle childcare-related changes or emergencies. This benefit is easy for a lot of employers to implement and doesn’t usually cost much up front.
  • Allowing parents to bring children along for required work travel (and paying for this). This benefit is offered infrequently, but it can help ensure parents do not fall behind on taking advantage of work opportunities that involve travel. Some employers even opt to pay for a caregiver to accompany the child and parent on the trip.
  • Allowing children in the workplace when necessary. Workplaces can opt to allow children in the work facility when it would not pose any type of safety hazard. Typically, this is implemented only on an emergency basis.
  • Paid summer activities for children, which can reduce the childcare load for parents of children who don’t need care during the school year.
  • Flexible spending accounts, which can be used toward daycare expenses, making those expenses pretax. The money in these pretax accounts can be used for child care, preschool, and before- or after-school programs. There are also Dependent Care Assistance Programs (DCAPs) that provide pretax options.

These benefits can reduce absences related to childcare problems, which can be a win-win for employers and employees. Parents can have help or expanded childcare options and benefit from less stress on that front, which can positively impact productivity, helping other employees, as well.