Survey: Parents stressed, anxious about sending children back to school

Dive Brief:

  • Working parents considering back-to-school plans for their children seek flexibility from their employers, but some aren’t receiving it, according to an Aug. 14 Monster survey. The survey found that 27% of parents did not agree when asked if their company supported them during back-to-school season, according to data Monster sent HR Dive in an email. 
  • The global employment website’s survey of 2,048 U.S. working parents found that 75% of respondents view schedule flexibility as a means of support from their organization. More than half (64%) of respondents said they have stress and anxiety about sending their children to school during the pandemic; and of those respondents, 76% agreed the main cause for worry is fear of their child being exposed to the virus at school.
  • In an earlier survey of 2,607 respondents July 24, of those who are currently employed, 85% are still considering searching for a new position. Almost half (47%) of those searching seek flexibility in their work schedule (47%) and a pay increase (44%).

Dive Insight:

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the closures or partial openings of schools across the country require flexibility from employers for working parents, according to HR experts. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) signed into law March 18 required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where when an employee cannot work in order to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed due to COVID-19. However, guidance released Aug. 27 by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) stated that if a school offers both in-person classes and online learning options and a parent chooses online learning, the parent may not take paid leave under FFCRA. There are exceptions that allow FFCRA leave including when schools are “effectively closed” to workers’ children on remote learning days, according to the DOL. 

Employers need to keep in mind as workers exhaust their FFCRA leave, that leave is just the beginning of the equation, Laura Lawless, a labor and employment partner at Squire Patton Boggs, previously told HR Dive. Flexibility in the workplace can emerge when employers listen to the needs of their employees. “Ask parents what they need,” Mikaela Kiner, founder and CEO of HR services provider Reverb, told HR Dive in a previous interview. “You don’t have to have the solution. You just have to be good at asking the questions.” By proactively asking what employees need, employers may find ways to provide support “before anyone decides to resign, Initialized Capital Partner Katelin Holloway, previously told HR Dive.

In a June report by WerkLabs, the insights division of The Mom Project, the researchers found the women surveyed were twice as likely as men to leave their job within a year due to their workplace experience during the pandemic. Working women will be impacted the most amid a child care crisis, according to Tina Tchen, CEO of Time’s Up Foundation. During The Brookings Institution’s Aug. 24 webinar, which was part of a series to examine the state of gender equality, Tchen said “we are entering a new crisis that may exclude working parents, especially working mothers.” Working women, especially those without the means for private childcare options, are struggling with how to care for their children, Tchen said. Stronger paid leave policies including paid sick days and paid family leave to care for sick loved ones is crucial, Tchen added. 

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