Childcare and Health and Safety are Top Two Reopening Issues, According to Employers

August 3, 2020

New survey from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation finds 40% of employers have offered additional childcare assistance, benefits, or accommodations in response to the effects of COVID-19 

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation today released a new report, "Piecing Together Solutions: Employers, Childcare, & Returning to Work in COVID-19,” gauging employers’ current perspectives on childcare and how it impacts their employees’ ability to return to work. The report provides insight into how employers are thinking about childcare assistance, benefits, and accommodations in these unique circumstances. 

Childcare is now a top-tier issue for everyone in the business community,” said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “Limited access to childcare has long presented challenges for employers, and as childcare programs have closed or are operating at limited capacity, the lack of childcare options hinders our ability to reopen the economy."

The survey found that 40% of employers are not confident that everyone in their workforce will fully return to work. Of the issues cited as reasons, health and safety (81%) and childcare (79%) are nearly equivalent concerns. These issues are top-of-mind as almost all employers, regardless of size, industry, or location, have been forced to make significant changes due to COVID-19. 

Additional findings include: 

  • Supplemental Childcare Assistance: Forty percent of employers have offered additional childcare assistance, benefits, or accommodations in response to the effects of COVID-19. This number is only slightly higher for essential businesses at 42%. The majority of employers are offering remote work and flexible working hours or days, though this differs by industry.
  • Concern About Future Workforce: Forty percent of employers are concerned that some employees will not fully return to work. Employers believe this is mainly due to both health and safety concerns (81%) and childcare concerns (79%). Nearly one quarter of employers are concerned that some employees will leave the workforce entirely.
  • Overall Awareness of Childcare Needs: The first priority for employers is to understand the childcare needs of their working parents. Overall, 92% of employers believe they are aware of the childcare needs of their employees. Small businesses are most likely to believe they are aware of their employees’ childcare needs (95%), but most large businesses also believe they are aware of their employee’s childcare needs (87%).  
  • External Incentives May Spur Action: Currently, one in four employers are willing to increase their organization’s investment in employee childcare needs. More than half (51%) of employers would be likely to offer additional childcare assistance to employees if the government provides incentives such as tax benefits or subsidies.  

    Many employers are preparing for additional support as they consider return to work scenarios.  Forty-two percent would be likely to offer additional childcare assistance if more than 20% of employees cannot return to work due to childcare concerns. Our survey of working parents, found that 22% of working parents with children under the age of six were unsure whether they would return to their pre-COVID situation.  

These findings are the second in a series of surveys the Chamber Foundation is conducting to study the pandemic’s ongoing impact on childcare and the workplace. New data will be released over the next several months as lawmakers and educators make key decisions around re-opening. To sign up for updates or to learn more about the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s work on early childhood education,  visit https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/early-childhood-education.


About the U.S. Chamber Foundation 
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.  

About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing companies of all sizes across every sector of the econmoy. Our members range from the small businesses and local chambers of commerce that line the Main Streets of America to leading industry associations and large corporations.

They all share one thing: they count on the U.S. Chamber to be their voice in Washington, across the country, and around the world. For more than 100 years, we have advocated for pro-business policies that help businesses create jobs and grow our economy.