Providing flexibility and support for single parents


Now, more than ever, the pressure is on for single parents who work full time while caring for their children. Eight percent of full-time employees are single parents, while 60 percent of American households are supported by two incomes.1 Although single parents might make up a relatively small portion of the full-time workforce, offering better support and flexibility could make full-time work possible for more of them, and make life more manageable for those single parents already employed full time.

Infographic: Empowering single parents as family providers

Supporting single parents now

In many ways, the economic odds are stacked against single parents. These workers are supporting families on a single income, while also managing and paying for childcare on their own. Fortunately, there are many ways employers can help improve work conditions for single parents.

  • Flexible work arrangements

Unsurprisingly, three in five single parents want flexible work hours and the option to telecommute. As we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, working and parenting is a difficult balancing act. As some schools and daycares begin to reopen with shortened schedules or limited class sizes, flexible work will be vital for all parents, but especially single parents who manage the entire family schedule on their own.

  • Childcare support

Whether your company can offer flexible work arrangements or not, there are other ways to help single parents manage childcare. On-site childcare or corporate discounts for use at childcare facilities can make it easier for single parents to get reliable care on their schedule and lighten the financial burden for these families.

  • Time off

On average, single parents rate their physical health significantly lower than partnered parents, and it’s not hard to imagine why. The demands on a single parent’s time can make it difficult for these parents to look after their own wellbeing. Make sure you not only offer paid time off to your employees, but that they’re encouraged to use it to recharge. Paid family and medical leave policies can also help relieve the financial strain on new parents and parents of sick children who need to take extended time away from work to care for their family. Even if your state does not require paid leave, consider a company policy that can offer this much-needed benefit.

  • Employee Assistance Program

An employee assistance program (EAP) can offer a wide range of services to support wellbeing. Guardian’s Worklife Matters EAP includes mental and physical health support, as well as resources to help with caregiving concerns, legal issues, and college planning that could help support single parents navigate their many responsibilities. If you already offer such a program, make sure you’re communicating it’s benefits effectively to all employees to increase engagement.

Learn more about how to care for employees’ mental health in stressful times.

Offering support for the future

Being a single parent isn’t just a time management challenge, it’s a financial challenge too. The average annual household income for single parents is nearly half that of partnered parents and, on average, single parents have less money in savings and are more likely to live paycheck to paycheck. Employee benefits can make a big difference in the financial wellness of these workers.

  • Retirement savings plans

Since single parents are saving less overall, they have less money set aside for retirement. A retirement plan from their employer, with a potential employer match, could make the difference between an uncertain future and a solid financial plan for retirement. And since these workers must manage household financial decisions on their own, offering the help of a financial professional during benefit enrollment could make the process of saving for retirement that much easier to navigate.

  • College savings plans

Single parents are also less likely to be putting money aside for their children’s education and likely to have less formal education themselves, according to our report, so offering a college savings plan could make a big difference in the lives of these employees and their children.

Since the majority of single working parents are women, and single parents are more likely to be Black or Hispanic, helping these employees thrive in the full-time workforce can also help create a more inclusive and diverse workplace. And the types of support single parents want are in line with overall trends in workforce demands, so while single parents may benefit more from the support, all employees will appreciate the benefits.

To learn more about the benefits needs of today’s diverse workforce, download the Workforce 2020 report.

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1 Unless otherwise noted, data is taken from Guardian’s Workforce 2020 report.

Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation. The information provided is based on our general understanding of the subject matter discussed and is for informational purposes only.

2020-106324 EXT 20221031