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What to Do If an Employee Can't Return to the Office Due to Care Commitments

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Many people are excited to return to work, especially as the economy continues to reopen. Yet many people may also be handling new commitments they’ve taken on in the last few months.

Even before the lockdown, some of your team members were balancing childcare and work or even looking after an elderly parent or other relative. More employees might now be facing similar situations thanks to restrictions on daycare and school, or concerns about elderly relatives.

What should you do when an employee can’t return to the office due to care commitments? You can take these steps to help your team member achieve work-life balance and ensure they’re meeting all their responsibilities.

Establish the Length of the Care Commitment

You should establish the length of the employee’s care commitment. Many school-aged children are headed back to class full-time this fall, but if a child falls ill, then households may be asked to keep their children home for up to two weeks.

There’s also a possibility that schools could see a shift back to online learning, whether part-time or full-time. If cases rise, the government has signalled they will shut schools back down. Your employees may suddenly be needed at home 24/7 again.

Some people with younger children could have difficulty finding daycare, due to reduced capacity in centres. They may need to work part-time or remotely to provide care until a space opens up.

Even with full-time care, parents might have before and after-school commitments. Some people may want to start and leave early so they can get the kids from school. Others might want to come in later, after they’ve dropped off the kids at school.

Those with elderly relatives may have to provide extra care right now, as some services haven’t been fully restored. Some might need to provide care for two weeks in quarantine, while others will have longer-term commitments.

You should discuss with your employees how long they believe the situation will last, then make arrangements. While some arrangements are temporary, others might extend for some time.

Offer Flexible Work Options

Your next step will be to offer remote work options for employees who can perform their duties from home. They may be able to join you part-time or full-time, depending on their care responsibilities.

This could be a temporary arrangement, or you may decide to offer them the opportunity to work from home on a longer-term basis.

You might also want to discuss shift flexibility. Can someone start early and finish their workday early so they can pick the kids up when school lets out? Maybe they work shorter days or split shifts so they can ensure they’re providing the care they need to.

Track Productivity

Using technology like a human resources information system, you can keep an eye on your employees’ productivity when they’re working remotely. You can ask them to track hours, as well as see their progress on different projects.

You should also ask employees who are working remotely due to care commitments to set up a regular schedule. They should let you and their co-workers know when they’re available, as well as when they’re unavailable.

Communication is key to ensuring everyone knows when this employee will be available to answer questions or when they can expect work to be completed.

Help Employees Stay Balanced

You should also try to help employees get the equipment they need to work effectively from home. This could be assisting them with their Internet bill or making sure they upgrade their work station.

Take a look at what benefits you offer. An app that helps employees with mental health could be crucial to helping them manage stress and create better balance with all their responsibilities.

With these tips in hand, you’ll be poised to assist your employees in managing all their commitments in a better way.

Michael Noronha

Michael Noronha

Michael Noronha is a client success associate with the JungoHR team. With three years of experience in human resources and four years of experience in customer service, Michael has an array of expertise in various areas of the HR field. His industry knowledge spans from retail, beverage and food, air cargo, IT consulting, benefits insurance, and financial services. A certified human resources professional with a Human Resources Management Certificate from Sheridan College, and an Hons. BA from the University of Toronto, Michael's aim is always "continuous improvement." He strives to enhance the human aspect of human resources through all stakeholder interactions. Michael also has a love for sports and is an avid food blogger in his spare time.

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