How Employers Can Help Their Employees who are Family Caregivers
November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time for recognizing the unsung heroes who sacrifice so much of their time, energy, and resources to care for an aging or disabled loved one. The goal of this month is to celebrate and support family caregivers and raise awareness about their needs. The average family caregiver is a parent with school-aged children who has a full-time or part-time job.
Balancing work with caregiving is one of the greatest challenges that family caregivers face. Employers must recognize that many of their employees will need to care for a loved one in the future, and they should be ready to help employees deal with this challenge. There are many ways employers can provide support and assistance to employees who become family caregivers. Here are some examples:
- Adopt Flexible Work-Life Policies: Employees today rank workplace flexibility about as high as healthcare benefits on their list of benefits they value the most. Some ways employers can make the schedules of their workers more flexible include allowing them to work from home at least a few days a week, allowing them to work partial shifts at the office and take whatever work they can home so they can be with their loved one, and leveraging technology to conduct meetings and other interactions remotely. These policies clearly do not work for all companies, but for those that are able, this is a very valuable benefit you can provide your employees.
- Educate Employees about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): A large percentage of employees are eligible to take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a loved one who has certain health conditions. However, many workers are confused about FMLA benefits and how to take advantage of them. Employers can help by providing education, direction, and guidance to help employees take the time off they need under the FMLA.
- Educate Employees about State Family Medical Leave Policies that Go Beyond the FMLA: Some states have medical leave laws that go beyond the 12 weeks of unpaid leave available through the federal FMLA. For example, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California have both paid and unpaid family medical leave available. The paid benefits are funded through state payroll taxes and administered through their disability programs. Employers in these states can educate their employees about these benefits and how to take advantage of them.
- Provide Employees Access to Caregiving Tools and Resources: Each local community has a wide range of resources available to assist family caregivers. Employers can provide information about what is available and guidance on how employees can gain access to these essential resources.
- Add Paid Family Leave Benefits: If there are no paid family leave benefits available to the employees in your state, employers may want to offer paid leave benefits directly. If this is something the company can afford, it can become a valuable benefit for employees that helps foster greater worker satisfaction, loyalty and retention.
Family caregiving is a stressful job, and those who sacrifice so much of their time, energy, and resources to care for someone close to them deserve to be recognized, commended, and supported. Employers can provide much of the support their employees need to successfully balance their work and caregiving schedules.