How top US companies like Bank of America and Salesforce are preventing parents from exiting the workforce by providing thousands of dollars in childcare benefits

Many children in the US are only attending school a few days a week, per school guidelines, leaving parents with more childcare duties. LM Otero/AP Imagse
  • One out of every five businesses have had employees quit or reduce their hours due to childcare needs during the pandemic, per a recent survey of about 235 employers by HR nonprofit WorldatWork.
  • To prevent more employees, mainly women, exiting the workforce, more companies are stepping up and expanding childcare benefits.
  • Bank of America’s global HR lead Sheri Bronstein said providing childcare benefits is crucial to not only the company’s success, but maintaining a healthy economy.
  • In addition, KPMG, PwC, and other top companies have expanded or added new childcare benefits recently.
  • Sign up here to receive our newsletter Gender at Work in your inbox twice a month.

A childcare crisis in the US has already begun.

Some 21% of companies have seen employees quit their jobs to help their child learn from home during the pandemic, according to an August survey of about 235 employers by HR nonprofit WorldatWork. Data from childcare provider Bright Horizons found that 13% of working parents have quit or reduced their hours in the last few months because of childcare conflicts, Human Resource Executive reported.

If that data is indicative of the larger US population, that’s hundreds of thousands of Americans, mainly women, exiting the workforce right now or scaling back their careers, as economists predicted. This is because, while some other highly industrialized countries offer national, affordable childcare, the US does not.

Right now, the Republican-controlled Senate is sitting on two bills, the Child Care is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act. They would provide a combined $US100 billion in direct childcare funding over the next five years, including $US50 billion in immediate pandemic relief.

But it’s unclear if the legislation will be passed.

In the absence of a public program or bailout thus far, more companies are taking it upon themselves to keep their workers, well, working.

Take Bank of America for example, the company recently announced that eligible employees can get unlimited reimbursements of $US75 or $US100 per day, depending on their compensation, to pay for childcare arrangements. The policy, among others, goes through the end of the year.

Bank of America’s Sheri Bronstein, the company’s chief human resources officer, spoke with Business Insider about the decision.

“We don’t want to have a childcare crisis, in the macro sense, because if we do, we’re not going to be able to have productive employees and teammates who can do their jobs. It’s just one of the most important things,” she said.

Providing childcare benefits isn’t just good for business (and workers) in the short-term. Employees will remember how their companies treated them during this time, too, down the line.

“There will come a time when the employment market is better and this is the time to really create that bond, that loyalty and continue to drive culture,” she said.

Here’s what employers are doing to support working parents.

Salesforce now offers $US100 a day in childcare reimbursements for up to five days per month through the end of the year. The company also increased its family care leave, giving parents six weeks of paid time off.


Source: CRN

PwC doubled the amount an employee can spend on backup child or eldercare to $US2,000, increased discounts for child tutoring, and now lets workers choose to work a 4-day workweek.


Source: EBN

KPMG has ‘quadrupled the number’ of back-up care days per dependent for the 2020 calendar year and added five additional days of infant back-up care for those eligible.


Source: KPMG

Citi increased available employees discounts on test preparation and tutoring services.


Source: Bloomberg

Dell has increased online tutoring options at discounted rates and expanded its employee discount network to include more than 1,400 additional childcare centres.


Source: Dell

Palo Alto Networks has extended work-from-home availability through July 2021 and gave each employee $US1,000 per year to spend on a number of flexible benefits like tutoring for children.


Source: Palo Alto Networks

Healthcare company Novartis gave employees 12 more days of paid leave for caregiving.


Source: Novartis