Family Issues Resonate with Employers

Sunday, February 1, 2009
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Employers estimate that one-third (32 percent) of their U.S. transferees in 2007 were women, according to the Family Issues report from Worldwide ERC, the association for workforce mobility.

"The family unit and household have changed over the years, and that makes a difference in the way U.S. employers manage their relocation programs," said Jan Hatfield-Goldman, ERC's vice president of Research and Education.

"The traditional family with a working father and stay-at-home mother now represents less than 13.5 percent of all households, it is common for both parents in a family to be working, and quality child care has become increasingly important. All of these factors draw attention to family issues for employers who need to maintain a mobile workforce."

This excerpt of the report deals with childcare assistance:


Child care is a significant issue for today's families. With so many dual-earner couples in the workforce, families are reliant on non-parental care providers to watch over their children.

According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, in 2005, 61 percent of children not yet in kindergarten (0-6 years), 47 percent of children in kindergarten through third grade and 53 percent of those in grades 4 through 8 received some form of non-parental child care.

For relocating families, settling into the new location will be easier for those that are able to identify and organize appropriate arrangements for their children earlier in the transition process. Companies can assist by offering relevant and targeted assistance that takes into consideration a child's age.

Prevalence of Child-care Assistance

Current data indicates that just over 30 percent of employers provide their transferees' child-care assistance on a formalized basis, this is a decrease from 2003 when 39 percent of organizations offered such assistance via formal policy.

However, there is a simultaneous and almost equal increase in the percentage of companies offering this assistance on a case-by-case basis -- 8 percent today vs. 2 percent in 2003. Another 2 percent said that their companies were considering offering assistance within the next year or so.

The remainder -- 59 percent -- reported not giving any assistance for child care. Of those companies providing this assistance on a formal basis, 93 percent offer it to all current employees. The remaining companies differentiate by a transferee's job/grade level.

In addition, about half offering formal assistance do so through a relocation policy while the other half does so via the company's general employee benefits program."

The ERC report includes information provided by corporate mobility professionals on key issues specific to the relocating family and also offers data on transferee demographics; spouse and partner employment assistance' school-finding, and elder-care assistance; and commuter marriages.

Other key findings from the report:

* About six in 10 transferees have dependent children and nearly three-fourths are married.

* Forty percent of the responding companies have formal policies that provide employment assistance to the spouses of transferees. Nearly one-third of organizations offer assistance to the domestic partners of transferring employees through a formal policy.

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* Almost half of the respondents reported that their companies provide school-finding assistance to transferees.

* Three-quarters of respondents currently do not offer any type of assistance for elder care. Of those that do, 17 percent have a formal policy and 7 percent offer assistance on a case-by-case basis.

* Overall, 24 percent of employers provide assistance (in addition to that given in the relocation policy) to transferees with commuter-marriage arrangements -- 3 percent via a formal policy and 21 percent on a case-by-case basis.

The Worldwide ERC Family Issues report is based on data collected in September and October 2007, and pertains only to current employees transferred within the United States, unless otherwise specified. It is available in hard copy or online at a price of $95 for members; $250 for non-members.

Worldwide ERC is headquartered in Arlington, Va., with offices in Brussels, Belgium and Shanghai, China. Contact Worldwide ERC at (703) 842-3400, or visit

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