A new report from AARP argues for improving
family leave for working caregivers, citing the
growing population of older Americans, increasing
numbers of family caregivers on the job, and
escalating demands and stress on caregivers.
“Keeping Up with the Times: Supporting Family
Caregivers with Workplace Leave Policies” points to
three policy solutions to ease the burden on both
caregivers and employers: unpaid family and medical
leave, paid family and medical leave insurance,
and earned sick time.
“The aging of the population, changing workforce
demographics and increasing demands on
family caregivers are colliding at the expense of
working caregivers,” said Lynn Feinberg, senior
strategic policy advisor with the AARP Public Policy
Institute and author of the report.
“Even as workforce participation and caregiving demands are increasing for caregivers, workplace policies protecting or supporting them have remained stagnant,” she said.
According to the report, close to three out of four women of prime caregiving age are in the workforce and seventy-four percent of adults with eldercare responsibilities have been in the workforce at some point in their caregiving. one in four retirees reports leaving the workforce earlier than planned to care for an ill spouse or other family member. one in five workers age 45 to 74 expects to take time off for caregiving in the next five years.
The Family and Medical Leave Act limits leave for caregiving for elderly relatives to parents or spouses, effectively excluding those caring for in-laws, grandparents, or aunts and uncles. In addition, because FMLA leave is unpaid, it is irrelevant to many low-income workers.
It is also totally unavailable to those working for small companies with fewer than 50 employees. Nearly two-thirds of workers eligible for FMLA who didn’t take it reported they couldn’t afford to take unpaid leave or were afraid of losing their job, said Feinberg.
Feinberg said a number of other states and municipalities have established programs or regulations that enhance federal or workplace leave policies for caregivers. New Jersey enacted a family leave insurance program that provides benefi ts to family member caring for a child, spouse parent or domestic partner.
More information is available at: ww.aarp.org/ home-family/caregiving/info-08-2012/insightprotecting- family-caregivers-from-employmentdiscrimination- AArP-ppi-health.html).