Who are the working family caregivers ? They are the backbone of care in this country. Providing Care of a family member while working to maintain financial stability.
Eldercare is now recognized by a growing number of employers. Today, about one-quarter of U.S. companies offer basic elder care benefits — mainly referrals to help find caregivers and legal services.
Support for the working family caregivers and company responsibilities can take a variety of forms:
- Employers may offer “cafeteria style” employee benefits that allow employees to select supplemental dependent care coverage to reimburse costs for in-home care or adult day care. Benefits also should cover therapeutic counseling for the employee to help cope with the stresses of care giving.
- Human Resource or employee assistance program staff can provide information on helpful Internet sites and resource centers.
- Larger businesses may organize in-house care giver support groups or even coordinate with local community groups or hospitals to provide an opportunity so that employees can attend an outside support group.
- Time is the of the most critical benefit for an employee with care giving responsibilities. Flexible work hours, family illness days, and leave time are key. Data from the Bureau of National Affairs (1993) found that flexible scheduling improved job performance, decreased lateness and employee turnover, and increased job satisfaction.
- Companies with 50 or more employees must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a seriously ill parent, spouse or child, while protecting job security. Smaller firms can use the FMLA guidelines to provide support for individual employees.
- Other ideas include holding a company “care giver fair” or a series of lunchtime seminars on issues such as hiring a home care attendant, or coping skills for caregivers. Employers can establish a telephone hot-line, or publish a list of key contacts in their employee newsletter.
- Offer private long-term care insurance coverage for employees, their spouses, and dependents. Information on available insurance packages is available from the Health Insurance Association of America.
- Many larger companies have an Employee Assistance Program that helps find resources to care for an aging parent, while smaller companies may offer some form of information including pamphlets and lists of local organizations that may be useful.
- A Dependent Care FSA (Flexible Spending Accounts) may be used to help pay for medical/elder care expenses. These plans allow employees to contribute a portion of salary, before taxes, to accounts designated for health care expenses, including premiums and child/elder care expenses. Then employees are reimbursed from their accounts with tax free dollars for unreimbursed medical expenses and child/elder care expenses. The funds must be used before the end of the plan year, or grace period, or else unused dollars are forfeited. If a caregiver has access to these plans, they should use them, but plan carefully so that contributions are not more than can be used in a year.
- A state by state listing of paid leave programs for caregivers can be found on the site at – http://www.subnet.nga.org/ci/4-caregivers.html
It is important to realize that you, as a caregiver, have a right to choose giving up work or staying.