COVID crisis stretches many fed caregivers

Federal employees who normally serve as caregivers for children or family members at home are coming under especially sharp stress during the era of COVID-19. 

That’s the finding of a survey conducted for the American Federation of Government Employees, completed by more than 1,600 feds across multiple agencies in late August. 

The “vast majority of federal employees caring for children or dependent family members say the coronavirus pandemic has substantially disrupted their care arrangements and has resulted in extra expenses,” AFGE reports. 

Sixty-eight percent of feds who look after a family member say that the COVID crisis has both disturbed their care routines and cost them extra money. Worse, nearly all child-caring feds—about 92 percent—also report serious disruptions and costs. 

Fully 65 percent of all feds who report they are experiencing childcare troubles—and 63 percent of those reporting family-care trouble— say that their agencies are not accommodating them with flexible scheduling, liberal leave or other such solutions. Instead, rigidity in policies and lack of assistance and forbearance is stretching some employees to the breaking point, according  to the report.

The solution? While there is no panacea for the lack of flexibility among many—but not all—federal employers, one of the obvious best steps is to continue telework where possible. And AFGE’s leadership is pressing its case on this front. 

“Forcing employees to return to worksites before it is safe to do so not only puts employees’ lives in jeopardy but also disrupts care for children and family members,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said in an AFGE release.

"We continue to encourage Congress to pass legislation that allows employees to continue teleworking throughout this pandemic, expedites production of protective equipment, improves oversight of how agencies are adhering to health and safety guidelines, and ensures workers through their representatives are included in decisions about returning to worksites.


Reader comments

Wed, Sep 9, 2020

Been very tough. Agencies could fix this. Just permit more telework.

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