HR Support on Dependent Care Benefits & Deductions

Editor's Note: Offering dependent care benefits and/or support may improve the bottom line.

Tracy MorleyOverview: An employer's approach to work/life balance can have a significant impact on its recruitment and retention strategies and how it is viewed in the marketplace, and can even affect its bottom line.

Many employers offer voluntary dependent care benefits designed to help employees balance the demands of work and family. While the types of benefits offered in employee benefit programs may vary based on the employer, some of the more common types of dependent care benefits include: on-site childcare; childcare subsidies; backup childcare service; paid and/or unpaid leave; alternative work schedules; dependent care flexible spending accounts; and permission to bring a child to work in an emergency.

Dependent care benefits make it possible for many employees to work. Employers often offer these programs in an effort to demonstrate their commitment to employees, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity and morale.

Trends: Complaints against employers for unequal treatment based on caregiver status (also known as family responsibility discrimination or FRD) are on the rise. Some states specifically prohibit discrimination based on caregiver status (e.g., Minnesota); other states protect employees’ right to request a flexible working arrangement (e.g., Vermont). Employers should take a good hard look at their dependent care practices to ensure equal treatment for all forms of caregiving.

Author: Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor

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