It was supposed to be Lanette Johnson’s day off from her job at Best Buy, one she would spend with her then-4-month-old son, Logan.

But that day in October 2017, Johnson’s manager said her Arlington, Virginia, store was scheduled for an important visit from corporate. Could Johnson find someone to watch Logan and come in?

The day care Logan would soon attend had pushed back his start date, so that wasn’t an option. Family members who had been helping Lanette couldn’t watch Logan that day, either. And so, Lanette brought Logan to work, delivering her presentation while her baby slept in his stroller a few feet away.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to bring him, but I had a responsibility here as well,” Johnson said.

Now, Lanette and Logan are the inspiration behind Best Buy’s new backup child-care benefit for all full-time and part-time employees. Workers at nearly 1,000 U.S. stores, distribution centers and corporate headquarters have access to 10 days of subsidized care each year through a Best Buy partnership with Care.com. The benefit covers up to 10 hours of child care at a day-care center or at an employee’s home. For the employee, the only fee is a $10-a-day co-pay.

Johnson didn’t realize at the time that her spontaneous “bring a child to work day” would spark a company-wide change. A human resources manager was in the Arlington store the day Johnson brought Logan to work, and advocated for the benefit up through the corporate chain.

Best Buy’s program taps into a nationwide demand for affordable child-care options for working parents, particularly in emergency situations. Seventy-two percent of parents say their work day has been affected by child care that fell through, according to a Care.com survey. To make sure their children were taken care of, 67 percent of parents said they used a sick day, 56 percent were late to work and 39 percent took a vacation day.

American businesses lose approximately $4.4 billion each year because child-care issues keep their employees from coming to work, according to Child Care Aware, which advocates for affordable child care.

Johnson, who lives in Maryland, is a 14-year Best Buy veteran; she started out as a seasonal worker and worked her way up to managing 15 employees. She’s responsible for producing sales from mobile and smart home devices, and steering training and development for her employees.

“Me being a manager in the building, I can’t always take off when I want to,” she said.

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder, chairwoman and chief executive of Care.com, said having reliable access to backup care does more than save a parent in a pinch.

If employees don’t have to fixate on emergency care, companies help boost workers’ productivity and focus at work. Backup child care benefits are one way companies show an investment in their workforces, Marcelo said.

“It’s meaningful, not only for the peace of mind of their employees, but also for the economic benefit to the company,” Marcelo said.


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