COVID-19: How Do We Navigate Work Through the Pandemic in 2021?
COVID-19: How Do We Navigate Work Through the Pandemic in 2021?

Welcome to our first Talking Benefits episode of 2021! My fellow “pod squad” members Justin Held, Julie Stich and I engaged in more COVID-19 chatter during the most recent podcast episode. In this discussion, we focused on four main areas.

1. Benefits that organizations are offering to their workers with child or eldercare responsibilities

For employees who suddenly turned into teachers or caregivers due to the pandemic, benefits like subsidies, dependent care FSAs and resource and referral services for child or elder care became important offerings. We talked about what employers are doing to continue supporting their employees with work-life balance.

2. Changes to paid and unpaid leave policies

A theme that we found throughout a new International Foundation survey report, Employee Benefits in a COVID-19 World—Six-Month Update is the need for paid and unpaid leave policies that reflect the current reality. About three in five responding organizations have made some sort of change to their leave offerings due to the pandemic, so we talked about what organizations are doing for paid and unpaid leave changes. Some of these benefits include allowing hours to be carried over, borrowing from not-yet-earned paid time off and more.

3. Expense reimbursements for a remote workforce

We discussed survey findings that revealed how organizations are handling expenses their employees are incurring while working from home. I talked about missing that life-saving office staple, Wite-Out, and we discussed what specific items organizations are reimbursing, such as office furniture, cell phones, tablets, computers, internet service or cell phone service.

4. What return-to-the-office procedures may look like, including COVID-19 vaccinations

Very little has been set in stone, but we covered what we know so far about what return-to-work will look like. We chatted about some employers already implementing return-to-work safety protocols, some employers going remote indefinitely, and still others using a hybrid approach, combining the two.

One big topic on everyone’s mind is employee vaccinations. The big questions: Can employers require that their workers get vaccinated? And, will they? What might these programs look like?

If any of these topics have been bubbling up in your mind, give this episode a listen! We’ll be following this topic and sharing information on what COVID-19 will mean to work in 2021 as it becomes available.

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Anne Patterson
Communications Associate at the International Foundation

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Anne Patterson

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