Best Buy Co. suspended a new employee benefit for emergency child care after a published report found flaws at the company it was using to manage the program, Care.com.
Richfield-based Best Buy launched the benefit in December after hearing from workers about the need for it. The program subsidized emergency child care for all of its U.S. employees, full-time or part-time, with workers charged just $10 as a co-payment for the benefit.
But an investigation published last month by the Wall Street Journal found that Care.com was not performing full background checks of day-care centers and other providers, including verifying state licensing and running criminal histories of caregivers. The newspaper described cases where children had died or were injured or molested at centers listed on Care.com.
Care.com, the world's largest online marketplace for child care and other caregiving needs, has defended its practices, saying it provides preliminary screening as a baseline and that customers can purchase three tiers of more in-depth vetting.
A Best Buy spokesman said the retailer told employees on March 11 that it had put the brakes on the program after reading about the failings at Care.com. It worked with employees affected by the decision to cover alternative child-care arrangements.
The company did not know when the program would become available again.
"We have suspended our relationship with Care.com as we do a thorough review of both the program and the company," Best Buy spokesman Jeff Shelman said. "We remain committed to providing affordable backup child care to our employees."
Starbucks, Twitter, Facebook and Trip Advisor are among the other companies that, like Best Buy, contract with Care.com through a separate unit called Care@Work.
Care.com told the Journal that the caregivers in that unit get a higher level of screening because they are on-demand workers who are needed on short notice.
Care.com is a publicly traded company whose online platform is used by about 18 million families and 13 million caregivers. Since the Journal began investigating, the firm has removed tens of thousands of unvetted day-care centers, or as many as 72 percent of businesses, according to the newspaper's calculations.