Family-Friendly Workplaces and COVID-19

Blog Featured | September 23, 2020

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Written by Alison Miller

 

Since 2014, NCIOM has partnered with several state organizations to implement strategies focused on child maltreatment prevention under the CDC Essentials for Childhood framework. This framework includes strategies to provide economic supports for families (including policies to address income and food and housing security), enhance trauma-informed practices and communities, and ensure family-friendly workplace policies (FFWPs). As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, North Carolina partners recognize the increased need to support families through such strategies.

 

In response, it may be time for employers, municipalities, and state policymakers to consider adopting or expanding FFWPs. Several states already have laws in place to require employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed on March 18, 2020, also offers employees up to 2 weeks of partial paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of partial paid family and medical leave, but these provisions are set to expire on December 31, 2020.

 

What are family-friendly workplace policies?

 

FFWPs, including paid parental leave, flexible work options, child care support, and accommodations for pregnant or breastfeeding workers, are associated with improved outcomes for children and their families.

 

 

Survey results

 

The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation’s Family Forward NC initiative, in partnership with Capital Associated Industries, recently released the results of a survey designed to assess workplace benefits in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey, conducted in July 2020 with responses from 359 employers representing a variety of industries across the state, assessed changes, including anticipated or potential changes, to FFWPs. The release of the survey also coincides with the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation’s Rapid Response program, which provides human resources experts with industry-specific recommendations and tools to help employers and working parents build resiliency during and after the COVID-19 pandemic at no cost.

 

“The results of the survey highlight the utility of the COVID-19 Rapid Response program and how it is responsive to a need,” said Lisa Finaldi, Community Engagement Leader for the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. “While employers recognize how these benefits add value to their business, they often do not have the expertise or staff to create and build a family-friendly workplace."

 

Several highlights from the survey include:

 

  • 67% reported proactively improving workplace benefits
  • 30% included additional paid sick leave or implemented a new paid family leave policy
  • 18% enhanced medical coverage for their employees
  • More than 50% are currently offering or considering offering flexible work hours

 

Importantly, only 3% of employers reported that they have increased or are planning to increase child care benefits in response to COVID-19, emphasizing the need for FFWPs that include child care support.

 

Employers cited several factors in deciding to adopt or expand FFWPs, including wanting to proactively support employees, recruit and retain employees, and strengthen their businesses.

 

The full survey results can be accessed here.