Your Rights as a Working Caregiver
As a working caregiver, you have rights. Are you someone who has an older family member you look after but are also working on the side? Perhaps you currently work full time in an office but need to leave from time to time to take care of your loved one. Sometimes it may feel like you are abandoning your responsibilities at work or your responsibilities to your relative. This is a tough balancing act to handle. If this sounds like you, then here are some things that you should review.
Employers’ role for the working caregiver
As a working caregiver, know that your employer cannot discriminate against you for being the caregiver of a family member. As noted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) caring for an elderly loved one is the inverse of childcare. Meaning, in that responsibilities generally increase over time as a senior’s health condition worsens. It is also much more unpredictable and unforeseen events tend to occur with little warning. This means that as a working caregiver, you will likely spend more time taking care of the person you love. And this could create conflicts at work. According to the EEOC, an increasing number of Americans are working caregivers for elderly family members. And this will only trend upwards as the Baby Boomer population get older.
Benefits and policies for the working caregiver
Look into the current benefits and policies from your employer. Some companies do offer help to working caregivers taking care of their family members. This sometimes includes assistance finding resources, subsidized back-up care, flexible schedules, or counseling. You can speak with your Human Resources department to learn more about these benefits.
Medical Leave Act for the working caregiver
Furthermore, read up on the Family and Medical Leave Act. The FMLA dictates that eligible employees of covered employers can take unpaid leave job-guaranteed leave for various family or medical reasons. This leave should not cut your health insurance coverage if you receive group coverage through your employer. Also, the FMLA says that employees may use twelve workweeks of leave in a one-year period. You can use this to take care of a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
Communicating with the employer
Communicating with your employer is key. This is a priority to maintaining the balance between work and caregiving for your loved one. You may need to explain your loved one’s current debilitations. Also, explain how they affect your schedule, and how you will have to leave work in response to a crisis. Ask your employer how you should discuss this issue with your fellow coworkers. They may be able to assist you with work responsibilities when you are responding to an emergency. See if any of your coworkers are in a similar role as a working caregiver with a family member. Ask them about how they handle crises when they occur and if they have any advice for you.
Do not hesitate to ask for help
Being a working caregiver can be rewarding for you and your loved one but you may need help from family and friends. Ask for help when you need it. You can always look for professionals in your area with the knowledge to help you manage your caregiving duties. Create boundaries and limits with your family members. Also, other care recipients about your availability while you are working. Perhaps you can be available during your lunch or have a half-day once in a while.
Have a backup plan as a working caregiver
Always have a backup plan for when things don’t go according to plan. Ask for feedback or advice from family members, a caregiving professional, or your support group about what you can do to help your loved one. Remember, you’re not the only one in this boat, so even when it seems impossible, remember that you have options.
As a working caregiver, life can be tuff. But following these tips and suggestions will help. For more help as a caregiver, check out this post on caregiver burnout.
Jacob Edward is the manager of Phoenix, Arizona based companies https://www.seniorplanning.org/ and Prime Medical. Founded in 2007, Senior Planning has helped many Arizona seniors and their families navigate the complicated process of long term care planning with regards to finding senior living facilities.