THE International Finance Corp. (IFC) said employer-supported childcare is essential for each economy to reach its full potential, helping working parents overcome the challenges of child-rearing and ensuring that companies maximize access to skilled workers.
In a report, “Tackling Childcare: The Business Case for Employer-Supported Childcare,” the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said there is both a development case for supported child care, because such care is critical in child development, as well as a case for employers to support it.
“For employers, the lack of good quality and affordable childcare for their employees can translate into higher turnover and absenteeism, lower productivity and difficulty recruiting skilled employees,” according to the report. “This is because the unavailability or unaffordability of child care affects the choices that parents make regarding the type of work that they do, whether they stay at home or how they combine work with care. For families, gaps in access to quality care can mean less paid working time and lower household incomes.”
The study presented 10 cases worldwide in which companies found that child care benefits conferred advantages in recruitment, retention, productivity gains, improved diversity, and enhanced reputation, leading to better access to markets.
The study found that the best results came from offering child care support as part of a holistic strategy in meeting employees’ work-life needs, and that childcare benefits need to be offered to both mothers and fathers.
It also found that low-income employees have the greatest need for quality child care, which helps boost child development and helps parents retain their jobs.
The report cited seven countries with a favorable regulatory environment for employer-provided child care — Brazil, Japan, India, Chile, Ecuador, Jordan and Turkey. The best practices cited include mandatory child care support for companies employing as few as 20 women, or 50 employees overall.
The IFC said a range of options was available to employers, some more resource-intensive than others. Near the bottom of the range are flexible working hours to allow employees to provide child care, while on-site or nearby child care centers were at the top of the scale.