It was only a few months ago that we were all still going through the daily morning hustle.
Getting the kids ready for school or daycare, dropping them off and starting our daily commute to the office was then the norm. Now, with schools and daycares closed across the country, our mornings are looking a little bit different.
For parents who can work from home, mornings may consist of putting on their teacher's cap and homeschooling their kids. They're probably juggling conference calls with craft time and adjusting work schedules due to child care obligations.
Other parents, or essential employees who can't work from home may be leaving their children with spouses or relatives with daycares and schools shuttered.
Needless to say, neither situation is stress-free or ideal.
How can you help your employees manage their dependent care needs and take advantage of existing programs during this challenging period? Here are three tips to communicate to your employees who currently hold a dependent care flexible spending account:
- Review your out-of-pocket expenses. Employees should check their dependent care FSA balance and submit any outstanding 2020 claims and documentation to get money back in their pockets today.
- Check the calendar. The IRS-mandated $5,000 annual maximum does not usually cover all dependent care expenses for the year. Employees can re-evaluate their situation mid-year, and plan to exhaust their funds from summer onward. Remember that summer day camps are eligible expenses. While there’s no way to know what summer and fall may bring, we could estimate that some child care facilities may open in due course as workers return to their daily routines and work locations.
- Communicate election options. Employees in the DCFSA program may want to reduce or suspend their participation if they will not be able to exhaust their funds this year. Additionally, other employees might suddenly need child care for school-age children and want to increase their elections. Let them know how to facilitate this benefit change.
Practicing empathy and communicating benefits options often and in many different formats such as texts, emails and/or mail is ideal to reach your employees how they want, in this "new normal" chaos. Giving your employees some tips on how best to use their benefits in a time of change can give them much needed peace of mind and increase engagement and therefore, productivity.
To find out other tips on best ways to communicate use of a Dependent Care FSA check out our e-book below.