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How BASF is supporting employees and caregivers in the United States

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Being a caregiver and a frontline worker in the manufacturing industry can be a challenging combination. Having access to the right resources and tools to help manage these competing priorities is key, but not many have or know how to access them and can often feel overwhelmed.

Recently, the Moms in MFG virtual conference organized by Women in Manufacturing (WiM) gathered dozens of women, industry leaders and experts from across the United States to discuss the challenges faced by mothers and caregivers in the manufacturing industry and how companies can provide the support they need.


The state of childcare in the United States

The virtual conference consisted of a series of sessions, roundtables and activities that addressed several topics around motherhood and parenting, including its main panel, “Why Investing in Caregivers is Essential for Companies.” On the panel, industry leaders and experts discussed the importance of childcare as an economic issue, the benefits caregivers value most from their employers and how to foster a caregiving culture.

Over the years, finding reliable, accessible, and high-quality childcare options has become daunting for many families across the country. The pandemic made this reality even more challenging, especially when health concerns left parents with very few childcare options. The result was often having to rework their schedules or even find new jobs that would allow them to take care of their children themselves.

This is widely supported by recent childcare data. According to the 2021 Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) report, the national average cost for one child in childcare in 2021 was $10,600 per year. And because the U.S. is the only developed country with no paid family leave guarantees following the birth of a baby, one in four new mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth out of economic necessity.

The unique challenge moms in manufacturing face

Unlike some other industries, where parents have higher access to remote work and more flexible scheduling options, frontline manufacturing workers usually don’t have these opportunities. Shifts are generally longer and remote working options are limited.

Additionally, manufacturing plants are often located in smaller, more rural communities, where company couples (where both individuals work at the same company) are a common occurrence, complicating the caregiving situation even more. In many of these communities, access to childcare facilities is limited, adding another layer of difficulty.

According to Vivvi’s State of Working Parents Survey, for many working parents, especially in manufacturing, paid time off (PTO) is considered their most helpful childcare benefit.

The economic impact of childcare on companies

The difficulties parents experience with childcare not only impact household finances and scheduling but also impact the companies the caregivers work for. According to ReadyNation's latest national study, 85% of primary caregivers said problems with childcare affected their productivity or time commitments at work.

The same study shows that before COVID, U.S. businesses lost $12.7 billion a year to childcare challenges. Today, that number has almost doubled to $23 billion annually.

So, how can manufacturing companies better support these caregiving employees and alleviate some of these challenges?

9 ways BASF supports caregivers

Whether an employee is expanding their family or recovering from a physical or mental health challenge, BASF’s leave of absence policies encourage taking time to rest, recharge and focus on themselves and their family.

Parents welcoming a new child, or children, can take advantage of up to 12 weeks of job-protected parental leave to bond with their new child(ren). This benefit is available to birth parents as well as employees who have fostered, adopted or started their family via surrogacy.

In the unfortunate event of a loss of pregnancy or discontinuation of foster/adoption/surrogacy, our bereavement policy allows compassionate time for parents to grieve their loss.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in five American women are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying, and the treatments and medication are expensive. For these reasons, BASF has partnered with Progeny to deliver best in class fertility and family building solutions that allow members to focus on the best treatment for their needs including:

  • male fertility services
  • support with a medical diagnosis on the fertility journey
  • a patient care advocate to offer guidance throughout the process
  • access to a fertility network with top specialists across the U.S.
  • access to three Smart-Cycles that cover all the individual services, tests, etc. and provide a customized service tailored to each employee’s needs
  • easy access to medication through an integrated fertility pharmacy solution.

At BASF we know that both the adoption and surrogacy process can consume time and energy, and have an impact on household finances. To provide additional family-building resources, we offer both adoption and surrogacy reimbursement program for up to $25,000.

We offer 160 hours of subsidized backup child and elder care for eligible individuals to support caregivers when regularly scheduled plans fall through. An additional 80 hours are made available to new parents during their child’s first year. This includes not only in-center care and in-home care but also out-of-network care, ideal for workers who live in smaller, more remote communities. 

We also offer free access to Sittercity to assist employees in finding local babysitters, nannies, pet care, elder care, special needs care, and housekeeping support.

This partnership also includes guidance and support for families with children with special needs, elder care planning, discounts on full-time childcare options, educational programs, virtual tutoring, and college coaching. 

To further assist financially, we offer a Dependent Care FSA (pre-tax benefit account) that allows employees to set aside up to $5,000 per year to pay for eligible dependent care services such as preschool, summer day camp, before or after-school programs, and child or adult daycare.

BASF employees who are relocating, traveling for business or have a surrogacy arrangement can request breast milk shipping free of cost. They’ll receive everything they need to send their milk, including a pharmaceutical-grade shipping cooler, breast milk storage bags, and FedEx Priority Overnight shipping labels.

As a caregiver, employees might feel overwhelmed as new parent, struggle as children adjust to the new school year or feel stressed about managing care for an aging loved one.

At BASF we offer comprehensive mental health benefits to help our caregivers find balance and develop skills to support their well-being and the well-being of their families. These benefits include free access to therapy, coaching, family counseling, substance use disorder support, on-demand digital resources, and more, for employees and their household family members ages 6+.

Receiving a medical diagnosis can be scary and stressful. BASF offers an expert medical opinion service available not only to employees, but also to household family members, parents, and parents-in-law. This service supports the whole family, ensuring participants have access to world-renowned specialists and feel confident in a treatment plan that works best for them. 

We provide comprehensive paid time off (PTO), which includes vacation, holidays, leaves of absence, personal time for hardship and emergencies, and more. 

Aside from 10 corporate designated holidays each year, BASF also supports 2 floating days so employees can observe additional holidays meaningful to them.  We offer a paid vacation with eligibility starting at 15 days and increasing with years of service.

Parents at BASF is an employee resource group (ERG) with chapters across the United States that supports our employees in the mission of balancing career aspirations and family life. The group provides relevant information, programs, and connections that enable success both at home and at work. Parents at BASF believes in the power of connected minds and connected parents.

Fostering an equal workplace

Aside from these benefits, at BASF we are committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the organization. This includes not only our recruitment and hiring process but also our culture, infrastructure, and development opportunities. 

We care for each other and prioritize our well-being, safety, and engagement. For this reason, and as part of a comprehensive inclusive infrastructure plan, BASF sites in North America have made significant changes in recent years to ensure greater accessibility to features and resources all workers desire. Some of the many examples of these improvements include gender-neutral restrooms, gender-appropriate uniforms in manufacturing, mothers' rooms for those who choose to breastfeed, and quiet rooms for meditation, reflection, or prayer.

Additionally, expecting mothers are offered special parking spaces closer to the buildings, as well as a thorough review of their work activities to ensure they can be performed during the pregnancy or if a change is necessary.

Our people make BASF the great company it is and drive everything we do, so it’s important that we show we care by supporting them in key moments that matter in their lives. We regularly benchmark our benefits and policies to make sure that our working caregivers – and all employees – are well-equipped to show up for themselves and their loved ones. 
Krisanne Pook.jpg

Krisanne Pook

Vice President, People Services USA.

We know that motherhood often takes a larger toll on women and many times, leads to a loss of professional opportunities. To support women at all stages of their careers, BASF provides apprenticeship programs as well as the Female Leaders Advancing Manufacturing Excellence (FLAME) program, which aims to “strengthen capabilities, build business acumen, and improve advancement opportunities for aspiring women in manufacturing roles.” Learn more about how we support Women in Manufacturing

Our 10 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are also a great source of support for women, minorities, people who are differently abled, and parents across the organization. These groups offer resources and useful tools to help navigate challenges, connect with colleagues, and grow and develop professionally.

At BASF, we grow by empowering our employees to thrive in their careers. Building an inclusive culture where opportunities are available to all, and where employees feel safe, inspired, and motivated, requires being mindful of their needs and providing the right resources to address them. Every action we take is meant to do just that. And although there is still work to be done, we are confident we are on the right path to achieve it.


Updated on April 10, 2024, by Mariana Licio.

For media inquiries or to repurpose this article, please contact Lisa Brown.