Paid leave for caregivers is used to attract millennials

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As demand for family-friendly benefits increases, employers are responding by offering paid time off to new parents.

While this is good news for families, a rapidly growing segment of the workforce is often overlooked: employees caring for an aging parent, ill spouse, or other loved one. Dear.

In the United States, about 40 million people are caring for an adult family member, and 60% of them are employed, according to a 2015 AARP report. And more and more of them are taking on this role at a younger age. According to AARP research, about a quarter of all caregivers are millennials between the ages of 18 and 34.

That’s why a small but growing number of employers are expanding their family leave policies and offering paid time off to employees caring for a loved one, be it a child, a parent. , a spouse, a step-parent or a grandparent.

“Caregiving comes in all kinds of forms,” said Jen Fisher, general manager of wellness at consulting firm Deloitte. “It’s not just about bringing a child into the world. The dynamics of caregiving and the definition of family have changed.

en Fisher, Managing Director of Wellness, Deloitte

In 2016, Deloitte began offering 16 weeks of paid leave to full-time employees caring for a family member. The leave can be taken all at once or at a minimum, in three-day increments, according to Fisher. Previously, only new parents were entitled to paid leave.

“Care for someone who is sick comes and goes,” she said. “If you take care of an elderly relative at home, one week there is a lot going on and the other days you are not 100% necessary. You can build your care needs around this. It’s a really flexible program.

Also Read: Caring About The Employee Caregiver Crisis

Under the Family Medical Leave Act 1993, private employers with more than 50 employees must provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but some employers go beyond what is required in order to attract younger workers. .

“Caregivers are getting younger,” said Kathleen Kelly, executive director of the Family Caregiver Alliance, a non-profit research and policy organization that supports caregivers. “There are a lot more Millennials and Gen Xers caring for a parent or grandparent. It is a by-product of the baby boomers having children later. The delivery of care has changed from generation to generation. Employers need to be aware of this. “

More than half of Millennial caregivers are the sole provider of an elderly family member, providing an average of 26 hours of care per week – the equivalent of a part-time job, according to a 2018 study by the AARP Public Policy Institute.

Yet most do not feel supported at work. They are less likely to tell a supervisor they are caring for a family member or discuss it with co-workers, according to the study.

In addition to offering paid time off, employers need to better understand the challenges caregivers face, Kelly said.

“Childhood issues have become more or less accepted, but not with elderly care,” she said. “If you say, ‘I have to take my mom to a doctor’s appointment,’ people think, ‘Can’t she do it on her own? It doesn’t have the same urgency or the same importance.

Also read: Benefits of caregiving enter the 21st century

According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, about 100 large U.S. companies have adopted or extended paid family leave in the past three years, but only 20% have made it available to family caregivers.

That is subject to change, according to Candice Sherman, CEO of the Northeast Business Group on Health.

More than half of Generation Y caregivers are the sole provider of an elderly family member, providing an average of 26 hours of care per week.

“People are living longer, there are gaps in the health care system, the employees are more geographically dispersed, so they provide care from a distance. Large employers know about it, ”she said

The vast majority of employers surveyed by the Northeast Business Group on Health in 2017 agree that caregiving will become an increasingly important issue over the next five years, and nearly half cite caregiving as one. of their 10 priorities.

Michael Walsh, CEO of Cariloop
Michael Walsh, CEO of Cariloop

“You see companies extending paid time off, but they are also looking for ways to support caregivers and that creates an opportunity for companies like ours,” said Michael Walsh, CEO of Cariloop, a platform that empowers caregivers. employees to access care resources. “With our services, you don’t just give people time, but you give them the tools they need to understand things they don’t understand. We did not feel that a company’s medicare plan or EAP provided the necessary long-term coverage or took into account all the barriers associated with providing care.

Also read: How to help your employees meet their family caregiving responsibilities

Walsh, who started the Texas-based company in 2013, said young workers are driving interest in supporting caregivers in the workplace.

“A major factor is a wave of millennialism, which is about feeling supported and making sure your business sympathizes with what is important to you,” he said. “We can’t just tick the boxes. We need to go further and send a message that we care about you and your family. ”


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