The pandemic shone a stark light on many of the challenges working caregivers face, especially when it comes to finding reliable care for a child, adult loved one, or pet. Although employees have long-term care solutions for their families, the unexpected can happen, and sometimes a last-minute option is needed. That’s where backup care can help.
Backup Care is a benefit that employees can tap into when a regular care plan falls through due to an emergency, unexpected event, or a disruption in pre-arranged child care. Typically subsidized by the employer, backup care offers an affordable option for the employee—with a daily or hourly co-pay—to find care so they don’t have to choose between missing a day of work and caring for a loved one. You can think of backup care like insurance—it fills in the gaps when there’s a disruption in an employee’s regular care coverage.
Types of Backup Care
Most people probably think of Backup Care in terms of caring for children, but truly equitable Backup Care programs also provide “back up” for pet care, adult care, and self-care.
Child Backup Care
During the pandemic, backup child care went from a nice-to-have to a must-have benefit for working parents and guardians. Employees can tap into their child backup care benefit if schools or childcare centers are closed, if they need to stay late or travel for work, if their normal caregiver is sick, or if they’re working from home but could use some help. Plus, employees have the flexibility to choose the type of backup care that works best for them, including:
- In-home care: Backup caregivers, such as a nanny or babysitter, come to the employee’s home to provide child care.
- In-center care: Parents can then drop off their child(ren) off at a child care center near their home or office, only paying a subsidized daily rate for that care.
- Personal Network: Employees have the option to use a go-to sitter or center in their own network of caregivers and submit a receipt for reimbursement.
Note: While backup caregivers and child care centers in the Care for Business Backup Care network are licensed in accordance with applicable law, if employees use a caregiver or center from their own network to submit for reimbursement, they are fully responsible for all vetting.
Adult Backup Care
Employees need support for adult care too. About 23% of US adults are members of the sandwich generation—caring for their children and an adult loved one. That doesn’t include those whose primary caregiving workload is for their parent or grandparent.
Adult Backup Care is most often used when an employee’s loved one’s regular caregiver isn’t available. It can be used for respite care, recovery care, or to fill gaps in regular care for an adult loved one, or even the employee themself. This could include providing extra help during a surgical recovery, or providing rides to and from medical appointments. Care for Business offers a flexible program that gives employees the option of Personal Network or in-network providers.
Pet Backup Care
Don’t forget Fido! For employees with pets, backup care is incredibly useful if they need to work late or travel for work. Employees with pet backup care can choose a professional caregiver for their furry friend, then submit a receipt for a subsidized reimbursement.
Why Employers Should Offer Backup Care
Companies lose nearly $13 billion a year in productivity on average as a result of challenges with child care. This is due to parents juggling both care and work, or missing work altogether as a result of a lack of care options. Forty-five percent of working parents with children under age 6—and whose children are cared for by someone other than a partner—say it would be very difficult for them to find backup child care, and 36% say it would be somewhat difficult.
In two annual surveys by Care.com, we found some staggering statistics. In 2019, 15% of respondents said that their employer offered some type of backup care, however, 86% said they wished that their employer offered this type of benefit.
The need for backup care is universal among working caregivers, and access to affordable backup care means employees can spend more time focusing on their work, rather than scrambling to find someone to care for their child, parent, or pet.
Want to know more? We recommend checking out our article What to Look for in a Backup Care Program.