The pressures of most jobs are plenty, but adding a child or two to the mix is gasoline on the fire. Even conscientious professionals find themselves choosing between work and life responsibilities too often for comfort.
One truly welcome benefit for those with infants or preschoolers is free daycare or help financing care. For employers, the payoff is:
1) Better productivity
2) Retention of workforce
3) Tax benefits
Here's some ways to get started for even the smallest of businesses:
Figure out how deep you want to goThere are three common flavors to this benefit: Either your company opens a daycare on-site, opens or manages one off-site, or it simply helps employees with the cost.
Contract out management to a private label daycareA number of comanies have moved into the business of setting up, staffing and managing company daycare programs.
Too small? Consider drop-in careA growing trend among even larger employers is to provide short-term back-up care for when circumstances (like overtime or a sick nanny) demand an employee choose between work and family.
Consider setting up flexible-spending accountsYou need not get into the actual childcare business or even pay to subsidize it. Allowing employees to sock away pre-tax dollars in an FSA can save them thousands in taxes.
IRS Pub. 969 and at the U.S. government's National Childcare Information Center. In general, you have to be already offering a cafeteria-style benefit plan. Aetna, the insurance company, offers this quickie calculator for figuring if your firm is big enough to play here.
Talk to your tax advisor about breaksOffering or subsidizing care can mean some immediate tax relief. Not enough to pay for it all, but productivity, retention and a tax break add up to a serious incentive.
- If your company has less than 50 employees or perhaps just few parents of young children, consider approaching a nearby local daycare and negotiating a discount.
- Be very aware of state and local requirements for childcare operational safety. Demand has brought many new schools into the market, and many struggle to stay certified.
- If you want to see a childcare program near you that works well, contact any major university, hospital or federal agency. Large employers, particuarly of shift workers, often have years of experience at this and can give you valuable insights.