Parents’ Work-From-Home Struggles Are Employers’ Problem Too

Lasting school closures should prompt bosses to plan for work interruptions



As the U.S. free-falls back into an uncontained outbreak of Covid-19, school districts across the country have announced they won’t be fully reopening. It’s become a major political battle, it’s left parents struggling to figure out what to do, and it’s a problem for employers, too.

Lots of employees have kids at home. About 40% of families include children under 18, and in 64% of them both parents work. Almost three-fourths of mothers with kids under 18 work, and 93% of fathers do.

During the spring, many bosses tried to give those parents as much flexibility as possible, hoping that the children would be out of school for only two weeks … or eight. Now, the school-less future seems indefinite, and a more sustainable plan is needed.

After all, the status quo isn’t working — for anyone. Many working parents are barely holding it together, while childless colleagues are burning out from picking up the slack. Recessionary pressures have managers wondering how much longer they can pay full-time salaries to part-time employees.

Bosses can’t leave it to parents and schools to figure this out on their own. Managers should start having conversations with working parents about their plans for the fall, says Avni Patel Thompson, a founder of Modern Village, a parenting startup, and an expert on work-family issues. Have their schools announced reopening plans? What will their schedules be like? What can be done to prepare for the possibility of another shutdown in the third or fourth quarter? “A lot of people have been giving parents space, but now is the time to turn that into plans,” she says.

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Source: Bloomberg

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