Working from Home: The Kid Edition

Working from Home: The Kid Edition

March 2020: States across the country ordered “shelter in place” mandates due to the ever-spreading coronavirus pandemic. Resulting in furloughs and layoffs for some organizations, other companies were lucky enough to allow their employees to work from home. While a blessing with regards to ensuring the safety and health of employees remained a top priority, working from home does not come without its challenges, especially when shirt tugging and the pitter patter (pitter patter? more like the stomping of giants…) of little feet are rampant due to child care and school closures.

April 2020: Less than 2 weeks into working from home with no child care, my 3-year-old daughter proceeds to dump half a cup of coffee ON MY WORK COMPUTER! Instant fear washes over me as I frantically power my device off, turn it upside down, and pray to the IT gods that my computer is saved, alleviating a dreaded call to my boss explaining that I’m the worst employee ever. (Pro tip: If you work from home with kids, invest in a keyboard protector, it saved my ***).

Mid-April 2020: At last. Some semblance of a routine in which I am ALMOST logging my standard hours per week. Clients are being taken care of, and as the first few weeks of chaos following the launch of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) have come to a close, things are finally falling into place and I think I can make this work for the foreseeable future.

Working from home with kids is HARD. I am fortunate enough to work from home on a part time basis; however, when our child care facility was no longer permitting children of “non-essential” workers and we had to keep our children home to comply with social distancing mandates, I quickly realized how much I relied on those child-free days. Though we followed a very loose routine prior to sheltering in place, I knew that in order for my husband and I to work, for my daughter to get some preschool education in, and for all of us to maintain our sanity, I had to quickly develop and implement a schedule and stick to it.

Every family dynamic is different, but routine is critical when you work with kids underfoot. Our ideal schedule involves my working while my infant son sleeps (that is a non-negotiable), during which time I get my daughter set up with some craft or educational activity. Before and after those 2 longer chunks out of the day I have carved for work, I make sure to keep tabs on emails and calls, but I have to get my kids outside at some point; otherwise they get stir crazy and the house is DESTROYED. Taking a break to run them (yes, like dogs) is necessary in ensuring I get work done. Otherwise, I’m left entertaining a very bored threenager and fussy crawler.

Oftentimes, I’m working on the floor with my daughter coloring next to me and my son playing with some toys on the other side. On days when my son is teething and super cranky, I’ll work standing at our kitchen counter with him in a wrap. When I’m desperate, my daughter will watch a video so I can make a call (caving to extra screen time during this phase does NOT make you a bad parent!!). More often than not, I’ll get an extra hour or so of work in after the kids are down for the night to flex and make up hours.

*Honest disclaimer: As I’m writing this, I’m telling my daughter that I will give her an ice cream cone after lunch if she lets me finish this project…

Sometimes, you have to resort to extreme measures and there are days when your routine will be broken. That is okay! The biggest takeaway I’ve learned in the past few weeks is to give myself grace. (Case in point, my house in that photo is a disaster; but, there is a smile on my daughter’s face = win). Set a routine that works for you and your family. Try your best to stick to it. Communicate where you are at with your supervisor and colleagues. However, if a project has to get pushed to the next day, or if you just can’t dedicate the time one afternoon to take a call or work on a last-minute request, don’t beat yourself up. Burnout is far more unproductive and lasts way longer than having to take the afternoon to recharge and focus on your family.

In times like these, it is all about balance. Find that balance, establish that routine, and simply do your best. We are all in survival mode right now. So long as at the end of the day the job gets done, we don’t pull our hair out, and we support and encourage one another when we are having a rough day, we will all get through this.

Families First Response Act – How it Affects You!

Families First Response Act – How it Affects You!

In unprecedented rapid succession, House Bill 6201 (also known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act) was passed by House of Representatives on March 13, the Senate on March 18, and signed into effect by the President on March 18. Effective on April 1, this bill will provide for paid emergency sick leave, expanded leave protections, enhanced unemployment benefits, and free testing for those adversely affected by COVID-19.

The following summarizes the three biggest components to the Families First Act:

  • Paid Sick Leave – Qualifying employers (private sector employers with less than 500 employees and all government employers) will be required to pay for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave (prorated based on average hours worked over a 2 week period) benefits to employees who have been impacted by COVID-19 (for reasons such as being required to stay home or when it has been advised to self-quarantine, when they are exhibiting symptoms, are caring for someone who is in quarantine or isolation, or for those who have children who’s schools or childcare facilities are closed or a caregiver is unavailable during this health emergency).

Employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt from this mandate, particularly if the “viability of the business” would be in jeopardy as a result of providing this benefit.

  • Paid Family Leave – Private sector employers with less than 500 employees and government employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of paid Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) to employees who have worked more than 30 calendar days to care for children when schools are closed or childcare facilities are unavailable or when they are unable to work remotely.

After 10 days (2 weeks, or 80 hours) of leave that would satisfy the paid sick leave requirement outlined above, eligible employees will receive 2/3 of their regular rate of pay.

Private employers with less than 50 or more than 500 employees are exempt from this mandate.

  • Unemployment Benefits – The federal government is encouraging all states to be more flexible with eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits. They are projected to provide $1 billion in additional funding to provide UI benefits to affected employees, and states have been authorized to extend the provision of benefits beyond the standard 26 weeks of payment.

The Department of Labor is actively working on finalizing the specifics to each of these components of the bill, specifically regulations that would assist small employers in navigating through this process, particularly if they are exempt from these mandates.

Nearly every organization has been adversely impacted by this national health emergency. We are actively working with our clients and colleagues to assist in answering questions regarding the employment status of their workers, modifying sick leave and time off policies, and providing any assistance as needed as we work through this situation. There are countless additional exceptions, provisions, and factors to consider when applying these mandates to specific businesses. For additional information regarding how this bill affects your organization personally, please contact us for a consultation and guidance.

We will keep all of our clients personally updated as additional regulations are finalized. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding House Bill 6201, its provisions, and how to implement these new protocols within your organization.

We are all in this together and wish you all health and safety during this time.