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5 Employee Benefits That Can Help Family Caregivers

Deb Hipp
By Deb HippJuly 10, 2019

If you’re a family caregiver to a parent, spouse or senior loved one, you may still be able to find a life and work balance, receive financial reimbursement or take advantage of tax benefits as an employee.

Learn more from these five employee benefits that can help family caregivers.

Top Employee Benefits That Can Help Family Caregivers

When you’re a family caregiver, stressors and worries often squeeze through the office door with you. Caregiving emergencies may even keep you from making it to work on time or send you running out the door a few hours early to handle a crisis.

Even though it may feel sometimes like you’re the only one at your job juggling caregiving and career, that’s probably not the case.

Around 88% of United States employees care for a loved one who is aging in place, 36% are long-distance caregivers and 60% have senior loved ones with cognitive or medical issues, according to a 2018 report by Torchlight, a company offering employer-sponsored family caregiving benefits.

Some companies offer paid leave to employees taking care of a family member. Caregivers could also be eligible for federal and/or state benefits that allow an employee to take a short or extended leave from work to care for an aging loved one.

If you’re a family caregiver, you may be able to find a life and work balance, financial reimbursement or help to locate care with these employee caregiver benefits:

1. Employer-paid memberships to online resources.

Caregiving responsibilities can fall on executives and line staff alike, says Adam Goldberg, CEO and founder of Torchlight, a caregiver-support platform for employers and health plans in Burlington, Massachusetts. Torchlight’s client base of around 100 companies includes corporate giants such as Dell and TripAdvisor as well as many smaller businesses.

Companies pay Torchlight for services that the employer then offers as a benefit to employees. Torchlight services include caregiving podcasts, webinars and other online resources. Employees can also speak with a specialist for caregiving insight. “We match the employee up for a consultation with someone with experience in memory care, insurance, housing and other issues that caregivers face,” says Goldberg.

2. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Family caregivers may be eligible to receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to care for an aging loved one.

You’re eligible for FMLA if you:

  • Work at a location where your employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles
  • Work for one of these covered employers: local, state and federal employers, private employers who employ at least 50 employees for a minimum of 20 workweeks per year, public agencies
  • Worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave
  • Worked for the employer for at least 12 months, although the months don’t have to be consecutive

Some companies offer paid or partially paid FMLA leave as a company benefit. For more information on FMLA, visit the U.S. Department of Labor FAQs.

3. Flexible spending arrangements (FSAs).

Many employers offer some form of flexible spending arrangement, but employees often fail to take advantage of this benefit due to not understanding the eligibility of expenses, says Colin Bradley, CEO and president of Winston Benefits in Manasquan, New Jersey.

A flexible spending arrangement (FSA) or a dependent care flexible spending arrangement (DCFSA) are employer-sponsored benefits that allow employees to contribute pre-tax dollars up to a certain amount annually and use it to be reimbursed for health or dependent care expenses, depending on the type of FSA. Some employers also make contributions to your FSA account as an employee benefit.

To find out more about your company’s FSA, review your employee handbook and contact your human resources department with questions.

4. Free programs for finding and managing care.

Many companies offer (or offered) some form of Care@Work benefits, according to Care@Work’s website, including Best Buy; Facebook; Gillette; HubSpot; Michigan State University; Northwestern University; Pillsbury; TripAdvisor.

For example, in 2018, Starbucks began offering to all its employees, regardless of the number of minimum hours worked, caregiving benefits. Starbucks’ caregiving benefit includes 10 subsidized backup care days for adults and children. For each backup care day, employees pay only $1 an hour for in-home care and $5 a day for in-center care.

5. Paid family leave.

Some companies offer paid family leave as an employee benefit. A handful of states also provide some form of paid or unpaid family leave separate from the leave afforded by the Family Medical Leave Act.

  • California Paid Family Leave provides up to six weeks of partial pay to employees who take a leave from work to care for a seriously ill family member.
  • The New Jersey Family Leave Act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of continuous leave with pay up to $650 a week through the states’ Family Leave Insurance in a 24-month period (or 12 months if also using FMLA) to care for a seriously ill parent, step-parent, in-law or foster parent.
  • New York State pays up to 55% of an employee’s average weekly wage for up to 10 weeks of Paid Family Leave to employees who need time off to care for a close family member who is seriously ill.
  • Rhode Island Parental and Family Leave allow up to 13 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave in two calendar years to care for a parent, spouse or in-law under certain conditions.

Bradley’s advice to family caregivers: “People caring for a loved one should research what benefits are available at work. They may actually have employee benefits they didn’t realize they could use.”

Are there any other employee benefits that can help family caregivers that should be on this list? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

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Deb Hipp
Deb Hipp
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