Are You Afraid To Tell Your Boss You’re A Caregiver?

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

For many working people, the struggle between their jobs and elder care is becoming business as usual. The fear of job security, especially in today’s economy, can add even more stress to a caregiver’s already demanding life. Compound that with the worry of attracting ridicule from coworkers and the situation is bound to have some damaging effect on a worker’s performance and self esteem.

As people live longer, more women are working, family sizes grow smaller, federal and state aid decreases, the strain is bound to be felt in corporate America. The Families and Work Institute reports that 42 percent of workers in the U.S. are caregivers for a family member or friend. Even though there are so many people struggling to perform both as an employee and caregiver, there is still a stigma in the workplace. Many are reluctant to tell their supervisors of their situation fearing they will be viewed as uncommited to their job, given bad reviews or passed up for promotions. They may worry about resentment from coworkers who will have to pick up the slack when they are absent. Caregivers might also face a lack of empathy from bosses or coworkers that are too young to understand caring for an elderly parent.

The unpredictability of caregiving makes juggling regular employment difficult. Caregivers are many times on-call 24/7 and their mother with dementia unfortunately doesn’t make an appointment to fall down in the garage. Many companies don’t have policies in place to deal with employees that are also elder caregivers and as a result of this poor planning, they actually end up costing the company money.  It is estimated that U.S. companies lose an estimated $33.6 billion a year in productivity with employees who are caregivers full time.

Much of the loss of productiveness can be attributed to stress. A preliminary study by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work finds caregivers of elder adults typically have more stress and depression than workers that aren’t caregivers and even more than those who have children. The AARP has reported 40 to 70 percent of caregivers have symptoms of depression. When stress and depression are involved it’s hard not to see how a person’s work can be effected.

So what should you do if you are a caregiver and trying to hold down a job? Susan Hackley of the Harvard Law School has this advice:

  • Share your situation and explain you can still do your job while caring for your family.
  • Remind the boss that you are committed to your job and want to be honest.
  • Describe the problem and suggest solutions like working from home, leaving early but making up the time, taking a paid or unpaid leave.
  • Invite your boss to discuss concerns.

There is no doubt that being a caregiver is stressful enough without having to worry about keeping your job. Having an open dialog with all parties involved will help avoid confusion and incorrect assumptions.

If you have any questions or concerns about caring for a family member, please contact the Law Office of Dawn M. Weekly, PC. The law firm located in Sandwich, Illinois and focuses on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients. Their office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334.

Every day of every week, Weekly Law is there for you.

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