What businesses can do to support workers who are parents/carers

Published on
3 min read

It’s a hard time for parents/carers at the moment – whilst schools are open to children of essential workers, the majority of children are now at home. Childcare support from grandparents, family or friends isn’t an option due to social distancing, parents/older people in the household will need more support than normal, and many employees are also expected to work their usual hours from home. We explore how businesses can support their parent/carer employees at this time.

Ask what support they need

Firstly, find out what your employees need to work comfortably. If you don’t know, you cannot help. Depending on the size of your business, this feedback can be obtained through phonecalls, emails or in survey form.

A good starting point for looking after employees working from home would be to ensure they have all the right equipment to make their time working at home possible and effective. It’s likely that their children will now be using the home equipment for their schoolwork or entertainment which may leave staff without the tools to work effectively.

Consider being flexible with working hours

Depending on whether this is appropriate to the business, there are a couple of options you could consider:

  1. They can work when suits them best around commitments (ie, early in the day, evenings, spread over the week) or
  2. Some staff may need to temporarily reduce their hours for an agreed amount of time 

Some employers are also adjusting hours and accepting less hours on the same pay. Ensure employees know it is OK (and encouraged!) to take breaks to care for children/parents if they need it.

Keep up the communication

Your employees’ needs may change over time as their families adjust to this new normal, so check in regularly; they are also likely to be anxious about the situation so communication is key. Try making sure there are daily catch-up slots available with colleagues, a work ‘buddy’ or managers. 

Keeping staff updated about what the company is up to workwise and how you are financially (as far you feel comfortable doing so) generally improves trust and overall wellbeing with employees.

Provide specific support for parents/carers

Issues for employees can be very different if you have added responsibilities of being a parent or carer.

Setting up a weekly parent & carer group call can connect your employees to others in the business that are in the same boat or link in with your family/parent and carer network if you have one. 

Suggest ideas for what they can do with their children

Doing this shows a real care and interest in employees. Provide information to them on activities that can keep their children entertained whether these are fun activities like crafts, fitness, art, culture or educational. You can also ask them to get involved with suggesting activities and sharing with fellow carer employees.

The Independent has a great article aimed at keeping children happy and healthy during this time.

This post from the Mental Health Foundation may also help your staff discuss this time with their children.

Employees caring for older people/ parents

Providing information that can advise employees on how they keep safe will be a thoughtful gesture; they may be living with someone who has to self-isolate or are having to self-isolate themselves.

This post from the Mental Health Foundation gives great advice for older people during this outbreak.

Most importantly ensure you make it clear to all parents and carers that you are supporting them, it is a real adjustment and they should not feel guilty about having to work differently.

To support them in ensuring and maintaining the health and wellbeing of their children or people they may be caring for, direct them to charities such as:

Tags

Mills & Reeve Sites navigation
A tabbed collection of Mills & Reeve sites.
Sites
My Mills & Reeve navigation
Subscribe to, or manage your My Mills & Reeve account.
My M&R

Visitors

Register for My M&R to stay up-to-date with legal news and events, create brochures and bookmark pages.

Existing clients

Log in to your client extranet for free matter information, know-how and documents.

Staff

Mills & Reeve system for employees.