The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for businesses and families across the nation. It is mid-August, and as more and more schools reopen virtually and childcare centers remain closed, parents are pressured to support the educational needs and development of their children while balancing the needs of their employer and still collect a paycheck. Many essential workers have to be at the job site and don’t have the flexibility of telework. Even working parents that are able to work remotely are finding themselves very distracted, less motivated and increasingly unproductive.
No parent should have to choose between their child’s education and their ability to earn a living. This virus lingers, unlike a hurricane or other natural disaster, one’s resilience weakens and all this pressure to perform takes its toll on the family’s emotional well-being. For many families, back to school planning will look different this year than it has in previous years. Your school will have new policies in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You may also be starting the school year with virtual learning components. Whatever the situation, these CDC family checklists are intended to help parents, guardians, and caregivers, plan and prepare for the upcoming school year.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Relief
In April, the US Government enacted legislation to respect employee rights and entitlements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Many employees don’t even know that they are cover by this Act and employers are required to inform employees of their rights and display the following poster in the workplace. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
This Act offers employees facing a pandemic related childcare crisis paid leave through two mechanisms. The first, the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, is an extension of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the existing law that guarantees employees the right to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for caregiving needs, personal illness, or parental leave. The second relevant piece of the Families First package is the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. It offers similar leave for six COVID-19 related reasons, including the childcare predicament facing working parents, and applies to both full-time and part-time employees.
It would also be prudent for working parents to look into their particular state and local laws for additional assistance and resources.
Hybrid Schedules, Up-skill Training and Pop Up Classrooms
Part of being a respectful and humane workplace, is caring about our caregivers. As we scramble to look for healthy alternatives, the first step is to ask our employees how their caregiving needs interfere with their current jobs. Specifically, “what types of accommodations would allow you to balance your work with your caregiving responsibilities?”
To get your creative juices flowing, I have listed some practical accommodations that are mutually beneficial for any workplace, which include:
o Work from home
o Provide upskill training for traditional onsite workers to allow them to telework
o Flexible work hours or workdays
o Alternate on-site workdays/weeks to allow caregiving coordination with other family members
o Pop up classrooms at worksite
o Reduced hours
o Job sharing
o Onsite childcare
o Assistance finding childcare or tutors
o Leave of absence
In the end, it never hurts to appeal to your employer’s conscience and good-will. After all, we are all in this together, and how we handle challenges is how we show our character!
Carol Flynn is president of HR Solutions Inc and is a subject matter expert in sexual harassment, organizational development and workplace integration. She has over 25 years in human resource management and is a professor and educator with a Master of Arts in industrial/organizational Psychology; life-time certified senior professional in human resources (SPHR); certified EEOC trainer; and past investigative member of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee (FBGC). For further information, see www.hrsolutionsfl.com.