Updated: Nov 10, 2021
The COVID economy has shuttered— among other businesses and agencies—schools and daycare centers. With the majority of caregiving responsibilities continuing to fall on women and the majority of leadership positions continuing to be held by men, many women have to choose between their job and their kids.
In fact, one-third of working parents have already left the workforce or have gone part-time due to COVID-related reasons, with 70% of those parents being women, according to a July survey by the parenting benefits platform Cleo.
Currently there does not appear to be an end in sight, with the ongoing debate still happening across much of the country about whether schools should reopen in the fall for in-class instruction or stick to remote learning.
Policy makers can’t seem to find an adequate solution, and so some businesses are adapting workplace policies to help retain women within their organizations during the public health crisis. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to what working parents need during COVID, here are examples of steps that five big companies are taking to offer additional support for working parents.
The accounting and consulting firm is offering employees a sabbatical starting at four weeks and lasting up to six months at 20% pay, which essentially covers all benefits, according to a PwC communications director. The company is also doubling back-up care reimbursement to $2,000 and offering discounts on nanny placements, tuition programs, and tutoring; and expanding their current 12 days of in-center Bright Horizons back-up care to also include in-home care provided by a Bright Horizons caregiver. Additionally, some jobs will be eligible for job sharing, allowing two workers to fulfill the responsibilities of one full-time position.
The Company: Google
Given the school shutdowns, the tech company extended their paid family caregiver leave policy by eight weeks, now offering their full-time global employees a total of fourteen weeks paid leave to manage family responsibilities during the public health crisis. Workers can choose to take their paid time off as full days or extend it to 28 weeks by taking half days.
The Company: Microsoft
In early April, Microsoft offered three months paid parental leave to help their working parents manage the school closures that happened across almost 200 countries. This leave is offered to both full-time employees as well as hourly workers, and can be used at once or on an intermittent basis.
The Company: Pinterest
The social media company rolled out a new four-week paid leave for working parents to take time when they need it for homeschooling and other caregiving duties. In addition, the company extended their partnership with the parenting benefits platform Cleo to be available for those with kids 5 years and younger (previously it was available only to parents with kids 18 months and younger).
The Company: Target
During COVID, the retailer extended it’s free backup childcare option to offer both hourly and salaried workers 20 days total of in-center childcare or in-home child- and eldercare.
Keeping mothers in the workforce will be key for our economic recovery, yet only 32% of organizations returning to work have a child care plan mapped out, according to research from the Society for Human Resource Management. If policy makers and businesses don’t offer adequate solutions, we’ll continue to lose top talent to caregiving duties. It won’t be only mothers and businesses that lose out, but also the economy.