The current labor shortage in Washington state is directly associated with the lack of access to affordable, sufficient, quality child care. Availability of and access to child care helps people go to work, but many working families, parents, and caregivers participating in educational pursuits, job training, apprenticeships, or job-seeking struggle to find care in their community and flexibility within their workplace.
Research shows that implementing family-friendly policies and practices is good for business, company culture, employee recruitment and retention, and the companies bottom-line.
Family-Friendly Workplaces program consults employers as they consider, assess, and implement, if feasible, family-friendly employment policies and practices. This program strives to reduce the tension between work and family, creating a work-life harmony and building a workplace culture that enables employees and businesses to thrive.
The Washington State Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Association of Washington Business, and Department of Children, Youth, and Families, is offering no-cost, professional business consultations, resources, and a broad range of solutions and tools to support employers in becoming family-friendly.
Solutions and Tools
- Employee Resource Group (ERG) – An employer-supported voluntary employee-led group where participants share the same interest. One type of employee resource group can be for working parents or guardians to share information about child care issues.
- Information sharing – Employers share child care information and resources with employees – either printed, digitally, or verbally.
- Workplace culture – Employer creates a culture that supports child care through communication, policies, procedures, leadership awareness, and the shared understanding that child care is an issue many people deal with.
- Consistent scheduling – Employees have a fixed regular work schedule over a defined period. There is advanced notice for changes to the schedule.
- Job sharing – Typically, two employees split a position and each employee works part-time; together their hours may equate to a full-time position.
- Non-standard schedules – Typically, employees work fewer but longer workdays over the work week. Allowing all or some employees to work schedules such as four 10-hour shifts, four 9-hour shifts and one 4-hour shift, three 12-hour shifts, etc.
- Remote work – Employees are not required to be on the employer’s premises in order to perform their job and can therefore work from home or other off-site location.
- Staggered shifts – Employer schedules employees to start and end work at different times over the course of the workday.
- Child care subsidies – Providing funds to offset the cost of childcare.
- Flexible spending accounts (DCAP/FSA/Other) – Employees use pre-tax dollars to help pay for child care.
- Employee Assistance Program – Considered an employee benefit, the employer engages with an external vendor that traditionally provides employees with confidential access to counseling and resources. Many EAPs now provide other professional
- Flexible leave – Broadens the uses for employee leave that is already provided; could also include pooling existing leave options into a single leave definition.
- Paid leave for new parents/guardians – Employer provides additional paid leave for new parents and guardians that can cover births, adoptions, foster care placements, and legal guardianship. This strategy complements maternity and other types of leave.
- Unlimited paid time off – Employees can take as much time off as they need and do not have accrued time off banks.
- Back-up care – Employer contracts with a vendor to provide backup child care for employees with children who need help on a short-term basis such as a sick child that cannot attend school or child care.
- Bring child to work – Employer allows staff to bring children to work in order to care for them while working (includes Infant at Work Programs).
- Child care center slots – Employer supports child care for employees by securing preferential access to a predetermined number of slots at existing facilities.
- Community partnerships – Employer partners with community organization to help with information sharing, building community assets, and pooling expenses. This is usually a longer term strategy.
- On-site child care center – Employer dedicates space for a child care center on site where employees work; employer may operate the center or have it managed by an outside vendor.