If you’re a working parent, then you know the feeling. The minute your regular child care plans fall through, your mind starts to race as stress sets in. How am I going to go to work? Same goes for when an unexpected work responsibility pops up. Who will watch the kids? The scramble to figure out will watch the kids is on.
When moments like these happen – and they will happen – backup care benefits are a lifesaver for working parents.
Consider how frequently these moments occur. Nearly half of working parents miss an average of four days of work every six months because of breakdowns in their regular child care plans. Think about the impact these absences have on employers; when people miss work because of child care issues, U.S. businesses lose billions in lost productivity every year.
Smart companies are taking action, offering subsidized backup care benefits to their employees. These companies understand that backup care is an and that helping their working parents navigate life’s uncertainties results in a range of positive outcomes – on the bottom line; on employee satisfaction, retention, and recruitment; and on workplace culture.
Life will inevitably throw curveballs at working parents. Here are some of the most common scenarios they face and how backup care can help.
School holidays, vacations, and early release days
After a summer of constantly organizing child care, as a parent you look forward the routine of school being in session. But you know as soon as you open the school calendar, you’ll find professional days, vacation days, and half-days strewn throughout the school year. School holidays aren’t always business holidays, which can be tough on working parents.
Your nanny or babysitter gets sick, cancels, or goes on vacation
You have a big meeting with a client you’ve been preparing for all week. Then you get a late-night text: your nanny is sick and can’t come tomorrow. Panic sets in. You can’t bring your toddler to the presentation! With a backup care benefit you can count on, help could be just a phone call or a few clicks away, meaning you won’t have to reschedule that important work meeting.
And, don’t forget: nannies have lives, too. When she has her own emergency to deal with or goes on vacation, it’s not always possible to get your kids into the local child care center. You might be able to work from home one day or get the grandparents to cover for a day or two, but having an employer-provided solution in times like these can lessen the strain of patching together last-minute care.
Your child is sick
If a child has a low-grade fever, that means no school or daycare … and usually no work for mom or dad, too. Since kids typically need to be fever-free for 24 hours or more before they can go back, having an in-home backup care option to watch the kids can save working parents a day or two from missing work.
You have an after-hours work event or an upcoming business trip
Either expected or unexpected, work events happen. You get to work on Monday only to find out there’s a can’t-miss work dinner on Wednesday. After checking in with family, friends, and the neighborhood sitter, nobody is available to watch the kids on such short notice. This is when employer-provided backup care can provide valuable cover. It also comes in handy for business trips. If you have to travel and your partner works full-time, someone needs to be home to meet the kids at the bus stop, be there for a few hours in the afternoon, and help with homework. In these instances, backup care can fill in the gap until a parent gets home.
Daycare is closed
It doesn’t happen often, but daycare centers can close unexpectedly, due to illness or some other unforeseen reason. When this happens, working parents scramble to figure out a solution. It’s a lot easier when your employer benefits include fully vetted in-center and in-home options to meet unexpected child care needs.
You get sick and need someone to watch the kids
If you and your partner both get sick, or if you’re a single parent and you are down for the count, having a backup child care provider can make you feel just a little bit better. Knowing that you can find someone in a pinch who will get your child to and from school, take them to after-school activities, and feed them is a huge help when you simply aren’t feeling well enough to do it yourself.
You have a family emergency
Emergencies happen, and having to figure out child care on top of dealing with urgent family matters only compounds the stress. For example, if your mother-in-law falls and breaks her hip, that means your husband has to fly across the country to look after her, leaving you alone with the kids for a week. But you work second shift at the hospital and the kids aren’t old enough to be alone after school and in the evening. Friends and family can pitch in for a few days, but having an employer-provided option to rely on takes a huge load off your back.
As you can see, life happens. Nobody should have to choose between work and care. For working parents, backup care means you don’t have to.