Supporting working parents as schools return to in-person learning

Many school districts in our region have either restarted in-person learning or announced plans to restart in-person learning.  Seattle School District middle and high school students are returning to in-person classes April 19.

The return to in-person learning may create additional challenges for working parents and employees may need additional schedule flexibility or need to take leave during this learning transition.

We have provided some options below to support employees with school-aged children. Please work with your supervisor and seek approval when pursuing these options, and consult your HR Manager for more details. Supervisors are encouraged to be supportive and flexible with employees’ requests whenever possible.

  1. Request an adjustment to your work schedule. If you need to provide care or learning support for children during your usual workday, talk with your supervisor about whether an adjustment to your schedule could meet both your needs and the business needs of the county. Where permitted, an employee may adjust the time period in which they complete each day’s required work hours to help them better manage the competing demands on their time.

    For example, instead of a standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work schedule, an employee may be permitted to adjust their schedule to 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. five days a week. Employees may also be permitted to adjust their schedule to work a different number of hours on each day of the week as long as they complete their regular 35- or 40- hour work week. It is recommended that you create a consistent schedule to allow for some predictability for both your home and work life.

    This option will not be appropriate for every employee or every function and will require the approval of an employee’s supervisor. Any change to the schedule of an employee represented by a labor organization must be consistent with the relevant collective bargaining agreement. If an employee would like to adjust their hours, they are encouraged to have a discussion with their supervisor.

    A Pandemic Alternative Work Schedule form must be completed and approved by the employee’s supervisor prior to beginning an adjusted schedule. After an employee begins an adjusted schedule, supervisors should conduct periodic reviews with the employee to evaluate the success of the arrangement. 

    ***Supervisors:  Consider how you can support a schedule change and consult with your department’s HR Manager if you have questions or concerns.
  2. Request to use your own accruals for time off. You can request to use your leave balances (vacation, BTO, comp. time, executive leave, etc.). For hourly employees this could mean taking two hours of vacation time and then logging six hours of work time. Currently FSLA exempt employees are not approved to use their own accruals in partial day absences. 

    ***Supervisors:  Consider how you can support your employee’s request and consult with HR if you have questions or concerns.
  3. Request an Unpaid Leave of Absence. Ask your HR representative about the possibility of taking an unpaid leave of absence. Employees should also discuss potential impacts to employee benefits (for example, retirement credits, healthcare benefits, leave accruals, etc.) with HR. 

You will also find more on leave options, telecommuting, and COVID-19 protocols in our Temporary COVID-19 Personnel Policy.

Metro Transit has also provided some useful tips to help students and families get ready for using transit for their school commute. Learn more here.