Just like any supposedly cure-all for a social problem, on-site nursery for employees does not necessarily always work. It does, however, solve some problems for both employers and employees. Depending on the individual employers and employees involved, an onsite child care facility may be an answer that solves many problems associated with an out of balance work-family balance.
On-site day care reduces anxiety many parents have about putting their children in child care centers where they are not nearby. Being able to visit during lunch hours or breaks can be a significant relief to a parent. Nursing mothers are also able to return to work sooner and still be close to their infants. On-site nurseries are also often licensed by a governmental authority, which further eases parents’ worries that their children are not receiving age-appropriate care and safe supervision.
Employers also benefit from on-site nurseries in many cases. While it is not feasible or practical in all cases, those employers who do offer child care at work have typically seen a significant reduction in the amount of money they spend on labor each year. In the book Kids at Work: The Value of Employer-Sponsored On-Site Child Care Centers by Rachel Connelly, Deborah S. DeGraff, and Rachel A. Willis, two companies included in an approximately 1,000-strong employee survey that offered on-site nursery saved $150,000 and $250,000 per year in wages.
Moreover, employers with on-site nursery report reduced absenteeism and turnover. They are also able to recruit and retain workers they may not have otherwise been able to entice to work for them.
The most important part of education is proper training in the nursery.
Furthermore, employees were very willing to help subsidize childcare costs out of their paychecks, even those without children. They understood that on-site nursery would improve morale and productivity among workers with children. That would make the work environment generally more enjoyable for everyone. Furthermore, they were willing to help pay for on-site child care because they liked that the employer was willing to help its employees. Workers were willing to pay between $125 and $225 per year, on average, to help pay for work site child care.
On the other hand, it is true that in American society, about 27 percent of women work in blue collar jobs, and many of their employers would not consider on-site child care. Also, child care responsibilities in American society typically fall to women. Employers are also not offering health care services as often as they used to. Asking them to provide child care on-site is not likely to happen.
Perhaps a better alternative would be to provide longer maternity and paternity leave for parents. Flexible work schedules would also be a good option for many employers compared to providing on-site nursery. Nursery workers cannot take children to the doctor or care for them when they are ill, and school-aged children still require care between 3 and 6 p.m.
So, depending on a particular employer’s situation and the attitudes and financial situations of the people it hires, on-site child care may offer a good solution to labor problems like absenteeism and tardiness. Still, other employers may find similar benefits in more flexible work schedules and paid leave for both male and female new parents.