Originally published by Kayla Webster for Accounting Today.
School is back in session — at the kitchen table. To help employees juggle their work and parenting responsibilities in the age of COVID-19, Big Four firm PwC revamped their child care benefits with new and upgraded offerings.
Seventeen of the nation’s 20 largest school districts are choosing to conduct class remotely this year due to COVID-19, according to Education Week, a trade publication for educators. That means more than 4 million children will be learning spelling and arithmetic from home — right alongside parents who are trying to work.
“As schools start to announce their plans for the pandemic, we wanted to help make things easier for our working parents,” says Kim Jones, people experience leader at PwC. “It’s a challenging time; many of our employees are overseeing their children’s education while working from home.”
Jones says she and her team spent the last couple of months reevaluating their benefits package to prepare for the potentially unusual school year. She says the company recognized the challenges posed by quarantine would be a greater burden to some employees more than others.
“What is happening right now is disproportionately affecting our women and people of color,” Jones says. “We want to help them succeed and make them proud of where they work.”
These are the optional perks she and her team introduced this month for all employees:
Employees can set aside hours where they’re not to be disturbed by colleagues.
“Parents can use this to help their children get ready for school, or to have some time set aside to help them with lessons, or make/have lunch together,” Jones says.
Employees have the option to work part-time.
“Some positions can be split between two employees so they can have more time to take care of personal issues,” Jones says.
Employees can choose to have a four-day workweek.
“The biggest thing employees said they needed in order to juggle their personal and work responsibilities was time,” Jones says. “This is a difficult time for everyone, and we wanted to give them the option to take an extra day to recharge.”
Employees can choose their own start time.
“Sometimes we just need a little bit of flexibility to balance work and our personal life,” Jones says. “I know some parents who like to start around 10 in the morning so they can help their kids get ready for the day.”
Employees can take a six-month leave of absence and receive 20% of their normal pay.
“Sometimes taking a week off isn’t enough,” Jones says. “We provided this option so employees can step away to recharge, or take care of their personal lives.”
When last minute child or elder care arrangements need to be made, PwC will pay for a service to handle it. The company doubled its reimbursement amount to $2,000.
“This is already a popular benefit, but we decided that given current circumstances, our employees were going to need it even more, and possibly for longer,” Jones says.
PwC employees receive discounted rates from company-approved tutoring companies.
“Parents are probably going to be more hands-on with their children’s education during the pandemic,” Jones says. “Some kids might need a little extra help with some subjects.”