It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has shaken up the workforce in many ways—from furloughed workers to a shift toward remote work to scaling back on staff and budgets. And, when it comes to how employees are navigating the effects of COVID-19, the impact is not only felt at work but especially at home.

Employees with children have taken on the added responsibility of balancing childcare and virtual schooling with normal work duties. Sometimes, the two worlds clash as employees who are scheduled for virtual or phone meetings find themselves multitasking while keeping children entertained and engaged with learning. If you find yourself in this situation, you can attest that it’s not easy.

So, how can employers best help employees who are working and balancing childcare or virtual learning? And are there specific regulations or guidelines that employers must follow for employees with children amid COVID-19? Here are a few things you should know.

What Are Employer Obligations Under the FFCRA?

In the event of a school closure, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires most employers with less than 500 employees to provide 12 weeks of leave to eligible employees, which will only apply should an employee not be able to work from home. Many families already used the available 12 weeks of leave before the 2020-2021 school year began; however, employees who have any remaining leave time under the FFCRA can still use it if their child’s school remains fully or partially closed in the fall. Also, some employees may request to use leave in the fall due to a co-parent using the full 12 weeks of FFCRA leave in the spring of 2020 for childcare.

What About Regulations for Employers of 500 or more?

There’s no federal law that requires companies of more than 500 to provide leave to employees for childcare remote learning. But, several states and local governments—including California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington— have developed and passed paid sick leave laws that apply to COVID-19 scenarios or absences.

What Further Steps Can You Take to Help Your Employees with Children?

While a focus on following federal, state, and local regulations and guidelines is key, many employers want to ensure that employees with children are able to meet their parental obligations while also retaining top talent, maintaining workplace productivity, and keeping team morale healthy. Beyond meeting requirements, it’s important to take some additional steps toward providing an accountable yet flexible work environment for employees with children to continue with their roles and responsibilities along with some sensitivity to taking care of their families and school-specific needs. A few ideas to consider could include:

  • Expanding virtual work opportunities where applicable
  • Creating a flexible workday schedule so that work can be completed beyond typical work hours
  • Considering allowing job share or shift-trading for hourly employees
  • Exploring on-site childcare opportunities with partner childcare organizations
  • Dedicating an unused office or conference room in your building to allow remote learning space for employees with older children

Don’t Carry the Burden Alone

At LBMC Employment Partners, our team of human resources professionals is here to help guide you toward a return to normalcy after COVID-19. Let us help you ease the burden of employee management. Contact us today to learn how our team can scale and grow along with you.