The first thing you should do is talk to your employer's human resources office about your options. If possible, do this long before your child is actually ill.
Here is a list of questions you'll want to ask:
- Am I allowed to use my own personal bank of sick days to care for family members?
Some companies will allow you to use your own sick days to take care of a sick child; others won't. Find out ahead of time what your company's policies are.
- Does the company offer sick-care for the children of employees, or are there sick child care establishments operating locally?
For example, The Rainbow StationSM offers The Get Well StationSM, which has four separate rooms to accommodate up to 20 children with various illnesses, from gastrointestinal ailments to the chicken pox. To find a child care facility in your area that accommodates mildly ill children, contact the National Association of Sick Child Day Care.
- Will the company subsidize the cost of sick child care?
Since the cost of sick child care is typically more expensive than average child care, some companies will offer to pay part of the additional costs. In an effort to reduce the financial impact of employees who use their personal sick time to care for their children, subsidizing the fees may actually be in the best interests of the company and could save money over time.
- Would I be allowed to temporarily work from home in order to care for a sick child?
Some companies will allow each employee to work from home for a predetermined number of hours each year. If your company allows this option, find out how many hours you can work from home and what you need to do to put your working from home hours into effect.
- Are there any flex-time options available to me?
More and more companies are offering their employees flex-time. This simply means that you would accrue your regular work hours at a different time. This might be accomplished by taking on an extra shift during the month, accepting an additional project, or swapping hours with a colleague.