Good morning, ProviderNation.
Bosses should give their employees more time off to take care of ailing, aging relatives and friends, the fine folks at the AARP have concluded. In a new report entitled “Keeping Up with the Times: Supporting Family Caregivers with Workplace Leave Policies,” AARP says that an aging America is already putting pressure on workers and things will only get worse.
“The aging of the population, changing workforce demographics and increasing demands on family caregivers are colliding at the expense of working caregivers,” says study author Lynn Feinberg. “Even as workforce participation and caregiving demands are increasing for caregivers, workplace policies protecting or supporting them have remained stagnant.”
Nearly two in three workers who are 45 years or older already have to care for another grown-up, Feinberg says. Current law gives up to 12 weeks of unprotected leave to some workers, but it doesn’t cover some 60 million employees. Just 12 percent of American workers have some kind of paid family leave benefits at their job, while nearly 40 percent of private-sector workers go without paid sick days, Feinberg says.
“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,” she says. “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.”
This should change, Feinberg says.
Among her recommendations (quoting from the original) are:
- Expanding relationships covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act,
- Adoption of policies at the state level that exceed current federal eligibility requirements for the FMLA,
- Optimizing worker productivity and retention at both the federal and state level by promoting access to paid family leave insurance.,
- Public awareness campaigns to educate workers about existing family leave policies,
- Employer implementation of family-friendly workplace policies, e.g., caregiver support programs in the workplace, referral to supportive services in the community and flexible workplace policies,
- Improved data collection on working caregivers with eldercare responsibilities, especially by federal agencies, and
- Further policy research into the interaction of workplace caregiver policies and healthcare access.
This might not be welcomed news to the bosses of the world, though, many of whom say they are already struggling with the cost of Obamacare. We shall see, said the blind man…