In 2017, about 41 percent of all U.S. families included children under the age of 18, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These children consisted of sons, daughters, step-children, and adopted children.
The BLS survey also revealed that 71.1 percent of women with children under 18 participated in the U.S. labor force in 2017, while the participation rate for men with children under 18 was a staggering 92.8 percent.
That’s a lot of working parents – and they need all the help they can get. As an employer, you can assist in a big way by offering the following benefits:
1. Predictable Work Schedules
Working parents with predictable work schedules do not have to stress about coming in to work early or staying late on short notice, since their hours are foreseeable. They can drop off and pick up their children from daycare on time, which eliminates the need to pay overtime to their daycare provider. By knowing what to expect from their work schedule, they will find it easier to plan around work and home.
2. Flexible Working Arrangements
We often hear about flexible work policies as they pertain to millennials. And while there is no denying that millennials value flexible work schedules, employers should not overlook the positive impact of this arrangement on the working-parent demographic.
For example, you might develop flexible work policies that let employees choose their arrival and departure work times, or the days they would like to work. Also, see if certain roles can be performed remotely or partially between work and home.
3. Dependent Care Assistance
Per the fifth annual Care.com Cost of Care Survey, more than seven in 10 American families have a hard time affording child care. A Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) can help alleviate the cost burden.
Also known as a dependent care flexible spending account, a DCAP is a tax-favored employer-sponsored program that helps employees pay for the care of a qualifying dependent, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Generally, a qualifying child must be 12 years old or younger and must live with the employee. Note that there are exceptions for individuals age 13 or older who are incapable of taking care of themselves.
The employee and the employer can contribute to a DCAP, as long as the combined amount does not exceed the IRS’ annual threshold of $5,000 ($2,500 for married employees filing separately).
Under a DCAP, the employee can be reimbursed for eligible expenses related to:
- Before- and after-school care
- Nursery schools and preschools
- Child care centers
- Day camp
- Au pairs or nannies
Qualified contributions to a DCAP are not subject to federal payroll taxes and in many cases state payroll taxes. Therefore, both employees who participate in the DCAP and employers who offer the benefit get to reap tax savings.
Typically, employers provide dependent care assistance through a cafeteria, or Section 125, plan.
4. Paid Leave
As stated by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “Recently, there has been much interest in employer-sponsored paid sick leave policies across the United States, both in terms of sick leave and family leave policies.”
In other words, more and more employers are expanding their leave offerings to include not just paid vacation and sick time but also paid maternity and paternity leave.
A few states actually require paid family leave, and some even mandate school-related parental leave. But, keep in mind that employers who implement targeted paid leave policies are likely to resonate more favorably with working parents than those who do the bare legal minimum.