8 benefits for working parents

Mother’s Day may be over but employers should keep family-friendly benefits that support working mothers and fathers on their radar all year long. Benefits including financial wellness, paid parental leave and flexible scheduling can all help parents balance work and home life.

Here are just a few of the benefits employers are offering to support working parents.

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Paid parental leave
Employers are rapidly expanding their paid parental leave policies. The number of employers offering paid time off for new parents jumped to 27% in 2018 from 17% in 2016, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management. Although the benefit is becoming more prevalent, it’s still mostly the domain of larger employers , SHRM reports.

Employers including VF Corporation, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, General Mills and XPO Logistics are just a few of the employers that overhauled their policies to be more inclusive for new parents.

Read more about maternity leave
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Flexible work schedules
Instituting a flexible work schedule or allowing employees to work remotely can be beneficial for new parents. Employers also can consider options like unlimited paid time off, which can be a good way to make sure that working moms aren’t penalized for taking days off to take care of their children, says Maria Colacurcio, CEO of pay equity analysis platform Syndio.

“The number of organizations offering unlimited paid time off is still pretty small, but is growing with the demand for flexibility,” Colacurcio said.

Some companies have also programs that allow new parents to phase back into work by offering reduced schedules following paid parental leave. For example, employers including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Reynolds American and Noodles & Company all offer a version of this modified schedule benefit to new parents.

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Financial wellness benefits
More than half of new parents go into debt to pay their bills while on maternity leave, according to a study from fintech company Salary Finance. Benefits including salary-linked loans, payday lending and financial wellness programs all provide opportunities for employers to support their workers’ financial health.

Student loan repayment benefits also can help workers to pay down debts. From Travelers Insurance to automaker Fiat Chrysler, a growing number of companies are adding these programs.

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Onsite health clinics
Aside from providing health insurance, employers can invest in tools that make it easier for new parents to access healthcare services.

For example, employers can save working parents valuable time by making sure that their healthcare benefits make it easy to see a doctor, says David Vivero, founder and CEO of healthcare financial wellness platform Amino. Employers can consider “investing in onsite clinics [or] offering a tool that can help them find in-network care and book an appointment without having to wait on hold for an hour,” Vivero says.

Tech giants Apple and Amazon have invested in onsite clinics. A third of U.S. employers with 5,000 employees or more now offer general medical clinics at the worksite, according to a Mercer and National Association of Worksite Health Centers survey, a sizable jump from five years ago.

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Breast milk shipping
Breastfeeding a newborn baby while traveling for business can be a pain point for nursing mothers. Women often have to pump while traveling, leaving them with a high volume of perishable milk and limited options to store it or ship it to their child. Offering a breast milk shipping benefit can be a way to help new mother address this issue.

Providers like Milk Stork breast milk shipping services for employers including Home Depot, Vox Media, TripAdvisor and Pinterest.

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Mental healthcare
Workplace stress is known to reduce productivity. To help, employers could consider offering mental health and wellness benefits aimed at combating stress. The number of employers offering workplace stress management programs is on the rise, with 12% of companies offering these programs. That’s up from 7% last year, and just 3% in 2014.

Ocean Spray, for example, recently said that it planned to eliminate mental health copays for employees. Employers including Johnson & Johnson, Trulia and Verizon Media are also taking steps to address mental health in the workplace.

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Fertility benefits
Research from consulting firm Mercer shows that 68% of millennials take coverage for fertility into consideration when choosing an employer. These types of benefits can take a number of forms — including coverage for in vitro fertilization, egg freezing and surrogacy.

Coverage for in vitro fertilization is important for same-sex couples who want biological children. Some employers, including Cisco and Facebook, also provide benefits that cover the costs of adoption and surrogacy.

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Caregiving benefits
Employers are increasingly offering discounted or free childcare services to new parents.

Starbucks, for example, offers subsidized childcare for its U.S. employees in partnership with Care.com. Canopy a Utah-based software developer allows new parents to bring their young children into the office.

In addition to caring for young children, parents may also have to support an aging parent. About 73% of employees in the U.S. are caring for a child, parent or friend, according to researchers at Harvard Business School. There are tools to help support this ballooning number of caregivers. Offerings like Cariloop, Torchlight and Wellthy are a few of the caregiving apps for employees.

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