Oklahoma’s public schools are facing a financial crisis.
Teachers have difficulty earning a living wage, in addition to dealing with overcrowded classrooms, a teacher shortage, and low per-student spending (ossba.org). Union leaders are asking for a $10,000 pay raise over three years for Oklahoma teachers. If the bill fails to pass, teachers plan to walk out beginning April 2, 2018, causing school closures.
This issue will directly impact any employees who have school-aged children.
We encourage Oklahoma company owners and leaders to start planning now for potential school closures. Although the teacher walkout is technically not your company’s problem, your employees with families could be affected during working hours, possibly needing accommodations. Your employees may be faced with finding emergency childcare, paying additional costs they hadn’t planned for, and more demands on their personal time.
How you as a company respond will depend on the nature of your business.
At many white-collar businesses, bringing the child to work may be an option as long as the employee is still able to concentrate on the work at hand. At Nextep, for example, we welcome our employees’ children in the workplace, supplying comfy bean bag chairs and spacious breakrooms stocked with TVs, video games, and Legos.
For other businesses, such as blue-collar or doctor offices, children in the workplace would not be a feasible solution. Alternate solutions can include working from home, flexible hours, modified work schedules, or paid time off.
If the walkout lasts an extended period of time, companies may have to consider other options, such as extended paid time off or unpaid leave. Handling each situation on a case-by-case basis while still giving the same options to all workers equally is the best approach. It gives the employee the chance to find a solution that works best for them, while protecting your company from any perceived discrimination.
Once the walkout ends, additional flexibility may still be needed. If the strike lasts longer than four days, school schedules will be modified to make up for missed time. Employees may need additional flexibility to coordinate transportation and shift childcare provisions again to accommodate the new schedule.
To create a plan for your company, we encourage Nextep clients to contact their HR consultants at Nextep as soon as possible. Parents can visit Metro Family Magazine and various other community resources to begin planning for the walkout, as well.