More Workers Than You Realize Are Caregivers
Are you an unpaid caregiver? One in six U.S. employees are, according to a 2015 AARP report, spending an average of more than 20 hours per week providing assistance of some kind to a friend or relative.
The caregiver may look after a sick spouse, drive an older person to doctor’s appointments, or help a child with a school-related difficulty that requires taking time away from the office.
But while most rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours or take an unpaid leave to handle their responsibilities, the term “caregiver” doesn’t resonate with them.
They simply see themselves as being a good friend, parent, daughter, son, spouse or other family member who provides a loved one unpaid assistance with daily living needs or medical care, said Adam Goldberg. He is CEO and founder of Torchlight, a Boston-based online platform that provides resources for caregiving employees.
There may be other reasons these employees do not identify themselves to employers as caregivers. They may want to be viewed as strong and capable and are uncomfortable sharing their family’s struggles. And while there are laws to guard against discrimination—such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act—some workers fear employers will think they are less committed to their work if they ask for a schedule change or other accommodation.
But caregiving takes a toll.
Nearly half (49 percent) of caregiver employees are often late to work, leave early or take time off because of their caregiving responsibilities; 7 percent are warned about their performance or attendance, according to the 2018 report Taking Care of Caregivers. It was co-authored by Renee Albert, Facebook’s director of benefits; Mark Victor Hansen, the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series; and Michael Walsh, the CEO of Cariloop, a health and wellness company in Dallas.
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