COVID-19

Can you care for your kids while working from home?

David Brancaccio, Erika Beras, and Alex Schroeder Jul 1, 2020
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Florida State University employees won’t be allowed to watch their kids while working because public schools in the county are scheduled to open. Mladen Sladojevic via Getty Images
COVID-19

Can you care for your kids while working from home?

David Brancaccio, Erika Beras, and Alex Schroeder Jul 1, 2020
Heard on:
Florida State University employees won’t be allowed to watch their kids while working because public schools in the county are scheduled to open. Mladen Sladojevic via Getty Images
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Update (July 2, 2020): On the evening of Wednesday, July 1, the Florida State University human resources office held a previously scheduled townhall-style Zoom meeting for employees to provide guidance about issues related to returning to work on campus, and the telecommuting policy was discussed.

On Thursday, Renisha Gibbs, associate vice president for Human Resources, plans to provide further clarification on this policy to employees.

Part of Gibbs’ message to employees is the following:

“We want to be clear — our policy does allow employees to work from home while caring for children. We want everyone in our community to be focused on doing their part to keep each other safe. We are only requesting that employees coordinate with their supervisors on a schedule that allows them to meet their parental responsibilities in addition to work obligations.”


Is it OK to get paid to work from home while you are keeping an eye on the kids? Employer rules vary. Florida State University has amended its policy, saying employees while on the clock at home can’t also be caring for their children.

Marketplace’s Erika Beras looked into this. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.

Erika Beras: Let’s start back in March. That’s when stay-at-home orders were issued and employees began remote work. Before that, Florida State University had a policy where if you were working from home, you couldn’t also be watching your kids. But that all went out the window earlier this year when schools and day care and pretty much everything else shuttered. The school issued a temporary remote work agreement.

Fast forward to now as Florida State prepares the next stage of reopening. FSU employees won’t be allowed to watch their kids while working because public schools in the county are scheduled to open. If an employee doesn’t abide, the university can rescind approval for remote work.

David Brancaccio: Which will put some employees, presumably, in a bind.

Beras: The school did issue a statement to employees saying if local schools scale back, the university may reconsider its policies. And Florida has seen a spike in cases. Because of that, the university isn’t moving forward as quickly as it had planned in moving on to the next phase of opening next week.

But what this could mean is that institutions may not be as flexible as they had been at the beginning of the pandemic when it comes to accommodating their employees. In a lot of ways, we are having multiple crises right now. There’s the pandemic, but within that, a crisis of child care. I did a story about this last week, and all of the experts I spoke with mentioned a couple of things: One is that without child care women will lose a lot of the gains they’ve made in the past few decades. And, the economy just doesn’t work without day care, camps, schools and after-school care.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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