Making the decision to start a family is a joyous occasion for many people. But with this decision comes additional health care costs and considerations, and union members with children often have different needs from their fellow members without dependents. Family-friendly policies provide members with the support necessary to keep their families healthy.
Here are five ways unions can support their members who are parents.
1. Offer Fertility and Family Planning Benefits
The first step in providing support is to offer robust fertility and family planning benefits. Workers with access to benefits such as parental leave and in vitro fertilization (IVF) support are more likely to recognize their leadership's investment in their family's health needs and overall well-being.
Even when members have access to family-friendly benefits, it's crucial to ensure that they're comfortable using them. According to the Atlantic, union members are more likely to use benefits like parental leave if they know that taking advantage of those perks will not put their jobs in jeopardy.
2. Provide Access to Prenatal Care
Parents who receive access to excellent prenatal care have better chances of experiencing a healthy birth and delivering a healthy baby. According to the National Institutes of Health, preconception and prenatal care can help prevent issues for birth mothers and infants by informing women about the steps they can take to promote a healthy pregnancy. With effective prenatal care, future parents can reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and infant injury and mortality.
3. Remind Members to Add New Babies to Insurance Policies
Some members, especially first-time parents, may not realize that they need to add their new baby to their insurance policy shortly after birth. Many plans provide an allotted number of days for parents to add a new baby or dependent child, so the dependent will be without coverage if they're not actively added to their parents' plan. Help prevent this situation by offering members a newborn checklist that outlines key steps to take.
4. Address Children's Unique Health Needs
Since health care offerings can differ greatly from plan to plan, it's important to consider the unique needs children and their parents face. For example, injury is the leading cause of death for children over the age of one year. With this information, tailor your plans to include robust pediatric coverage options that include treatment for the types of injuries and other issues children regularly face.
5. Educate Members About FMLA Eligibility
Most members who are parents will face situations where they need time off of work to care for their children's health needs. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of leave a year for workers who are having a baby, adopting or fostering a child or caring for a seriously ill child. Ensure that your members are aware of their eligibility to use leave under FMLA to care for their dependent children through regular announcements, fliers, newsletters and social media blurbs.
In addition to implementing the steps mentioned above, always encourage feedback from members. According to Fast Company, feedback from working parents is the best way for an organization to ensure that their needs are truly being met through family-friendly policies. Knowing their health needs are being taken care of, your members can focus on the joy and excitement of building their families.
Julia Passwater is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Passwater earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Indiana University Bloomington, and she earned a Juris Doctor degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. After earning her law degree, Passwater spent over a decade enforcing federal employment laws for the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Today, Passwater writes about topics such as politics, government, employment law and work in the 21st century.