Earlier this week, Benefits Canada reported that Queen’s University is now giving stipends to its postdoctoral scholars to help with the cost of childcare. The university already offered similar benefits to faculty members and non-academic staff.
The perk is more common in the higher education sphere. Employees at the University of Toronto, for example, are entitled to 50 per cent reimbursements of eligible childcare expenses up to $2,000 per year for each child under the age of seven.
At Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., employees can set up dependent care flexible spending accounts, thereby paying for childcare with pre-tax dollars and lowering their taxable income. They can also apply for childcare scholarships of up to US$24,000 and for reimbursement of emergency childcare costs of up to US$350.
In Britain, some employees can buy childcare vouchers from their employers, worth between 110 pound and 243 pounds each month, which is deducted from their gross salary so they aren’t taxed on it. Childcare providers registered with the national Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills accept the vouchers as payment for any child under the age of 15 (or 16, if the child is disabled). In April 2018, however, the system will be closed to new entrants. Instead, the government has implemented a new tax-free scheme under which working parents can claim up to 2,000 pounds per child towards the cost of childcare each year.
What do you think? Is childcare an employer’s responsibility or something the government should be taking the lead on? Have your say in our latest online poll.
Last week’s poll asked whether employer-subsidized wearables like Fitbits encourage staff to get more active. More than half (56 per cent) of respondents said wearable devices may help but it’s important to incorporate other elements into wellness plans to keep up momentum. A quarter (24 per cent) said wearables are a great way to promote wellness and a fifth (20 per cent) said they aren’t effective because there’s little lasting impact.