Whether it’s re-entering the workforce or taking the next career step, moms and dads know that a paycheck is only one piece of the working parent puzzle. After salary, health insurance, and a retirement plan, these seven benefits can make the juggling act of working parenthood a little easier to balance.
Flexible Work Arrangements
“Flexible work” allows employees the freedom to dictate their own schedule (within reason, of course) — and more companies are touting this benefit. In fact, approximately 80 percent of companies offer their employees flexible work arrangements, according to a 2015 survey by FlexJobs. Sound enticing? Buyer beware: While flexible work arrangements can go a long way toward helping parents balance their responsibilities at home and work, it’s important to understand what the company means by “flexible.” Flexible work options can range from telecommuting on a regular or semi-regular basis to condensed work weeks, such as working four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days, to flextime, i.e., shifting hours earlier or later to meet the needs of an individual employee. If you’re entertaining a job offer and interested in taking advantage of this benefit, find out the details before you sign on the dotted line.
Family Care Time
Sick kid? No employee wants to drain a bank of vacation time due to an unexpected bug that’s making its way around school. Family care time — which is sometimes rolled into regular sick leave policies — typically includes a handful of paid days off each year that moms and dads can use to care for a sick child (as well as other family members or for bereavement purposes). No doctor’s note required.
Not every company can offer huge campus-style benefits — but there’s a reason the Googles and Amazons of the world do. Amenities like dry cleaning, workout facilities, daycare, after-school programs, and health clinics at the office are a draw for top talent. And while they might seem frivolous to some, these benefits can help parents accomplish the myriad day-to-day responsibilities of raising kids and managing a household while maintaining a career.
For parents seeking to expand their families through adoption, finding an employer that provides adoption benefits can help make the process, which can cost between $20,000 and $40,000, a reality. In fact, according to a Hewitt Associates survey, more than half of large companies in the United States offer some kind of adoption assistance to employees. While these benefits can vary, they often include information services, financial assistance (ranging from $1,000 to $20,000), time off for travel associated with the adoption, and parental leave.
Paid Parental Leave
When your family does expand, paid maternity and paternity leave has become a much-discussed benefit in recent years. More employees are demanding policies in line with countries that offer partial- or full-paid leave that lasts far longer than the typical six or 12 weeks in the U.S. Employers have taken note and are recognizing the importance of paid leave that allows both parents time with their new arrival. Some of the most generous policies: Netflix offers paid parental leave up to one year; American Express is offering maternity and paternity up to 20 weeks; and Etsy offers new parents six months of paid time off.
Back-up Child Care
Did the nanny call in sick when you’re on a tight deadline? Or maybe daycare unexpectedly closed and you have a meeting you can’t miss. There are times when not showing up to work isn’t an option, but the good news is your new job may have your back. Back-up child care benefits usually include your employer covering either an in-home sitter or a daycare program for a certain number of days each year. This gives parents an opportunity to be reimbursed for unexpected child care costs and peace of mind about unforeseen hiccups in their child care routine.
Unlimited Vacation Time
Unlimited vacation time policies are a relatively new benefit popular in the world of tech companies and start-ups, though companies in other sectors are beginning to jump on the bandwagon. Among employees, it’s quickly become a valued policy even though the research shows that, for the most part, people aren’t actually taking more vacation. Regardless, offering unlimited time sends the message that your employer trusts your judgement and recognizes that employees do their best work when they are less stressed out and well-rested. Moms and dads know the same is true for parenting, which makes this benefit a big deal.