Prior to COVID-19, caregiver benefits were an emerging trend offered by a select number of employees. The pandemic, however, showed just how essential caregiver benefits are to a meaningful benefits package.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned much of the workforce into both full-time employees and caregivers. On top of juggling working from home with children who were learning remotely, parents and caregivers faced tremendous pressure when it came to taking time off work to care for a family member who fell ill with the coronavirus.
Many had to choose between a paycheck and being a caregiver, which caused tremendous stress and anxiety.
Expiration of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed to help ease some of the stress caregivers were facing at the time. Under FFCRA, many employers were directed to provide pandemic-related sick and family leave if an individual or their family member were infected with coronavirus.
When the temporary ruling expired at the end of 2020, the threat of COVID-19 did not expire along with it. Now employees whose family is affected by COVID-19 -- and any other serious illness -- are now feeling the pressure once again.
This is especially stressful for many caregivers considering more than a quarter of employers were not offering any type of caregiving leave as of 2020:
The workforce and caregiving: priorities have changed
Even if an individual was lucky enough not to have a family member get sick during the past year and a half, the pandemic caused furloughs, layoffs and economic distress that negatively impacted most families financially in some way.
With about 50% of the workforce being parents and 20% caring for aging adults in their lives -- and many playing both roles -- unexpected financial issues but an even bigger burden on those tasked with caring for others with limited resources.
In turn, work-life balance suffers tremendously. Productivity, engagement, attendance and performance all suffer because employees were concerned about how they were going to care for their families during this difficult time.
While the pandemic itself is temporary, these concerns are not. As a result, employees are looking to their employee benefits to support their caregiving needs and help them prepare for unexpected financial crises -- and they are willing to change employers to meet those needs.
Employers can step up their caregiver benefits to provide peace of mind to their employers, improve engagement in the workplace and set an overall culture that prioritizes what’s important to employees.
Choosing the right caregiver benefits
In order for employees to feel comfortable with a “return to normal,” caregivers need to know they have safe and reliable care for their dependents as well as a safety net to continue that care in the event of another unforeseen circumstance.
Here are some benefits to consider to better take care of those who care for others:
- Home delivery services -- help employees provide grocery and medication delivery to those who are unable to shop themselves.
- Telehealth services -- Easy access to doctors and mental health professionals without leaving home.
- Flexible work arrangements -- Working with employees to find the work arrangement and schedule that’s the right balance of productivity, professional needs and caring for those at home.
- Additional caregiver leave time -- Offer paid time off above and beyond what’s mandated for those who need to care for dependents after an accident or illness.
- Dependent Care FSA -- Tax advantaged accounts for setting aside funds for care facilities, in-home care and other qualified dependent care expenses.
Including these benefits in your plan gives caregivers more of their personal time back, reduces financial stress and grants them confidence that their loved ones are getting the care they need.
Care for your caregivers with Clarity
Clarity’s product and solution suite offers benefits like Dependent Care FSAs (and many others) to help employees strike the perfect balance between working and caregiving. Contact us today to learn about our easy-to-use platform, automated solutions and simple administration options.