When you’re a family caregiver as well as a working professional, the stress can become overwhelming. Caregiving involves a wide range of responsibilities, which can encroach on your professional obligations. This means you may need to seek accommodations from your employer. That said, caregiver-specific employee benefits can lend support to professionals with caregiving duties.
To minimize stress and maximize health for both you and your loved one, it’s important that you take advantage of all the caregiver employee benefits available to you. Read on for tips on the employer caregiving benefits you may be entitled to, like employer-sponsored caregiver resources, time off, or financial support.
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It may sometimes feel like you’re the only one at your job juggling caregiving duties and a career, but 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 data-driven company which offers employer-sponsored resources to employees who are also caregivers.
There are many companies that offer elder care benefits to their employees, as family caregiving responsibilities can fall on executives and line staff alike, explained Adam Goldberg, CEO and founder of Torchlight. Employers pay Torchlight for services that are then offered as a benefit to caregiving employees. Torchlight’s support services include advising from an array of specialists, concierge services, as well as podcasts, webinars, and other caregiving resources.
“We match the employee up for a consultation with someone with experience in memory care, insurance, housing, and other issues that caregivers face,” said Goldberg.
If you are eligible for employer caregiver benefits through your company, you will likely find those benefits in your company handbook. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, consider reaching out to your employer’s human resources (HR) department to see if the company offers these benefits.
Many companies now offer caregiver-specific benefits that even include care support.
Care@Work is one of those companies. They provide public- and private-sector employers with ways to best support employees, by providing the employee with care resources like respite care on in-home care options. Care@Work’s mission is to fill a future need for caregiving resources. They provide their client employers with a network of care providers to fill caregiving gaps for employees.
Again, read through your employee handbook or check in with your employer’s HR department to see if similar programs are available to you through your place of work.
Caregiving employees may be eligible for federal or state benefits that allow them to take a short or extended leave from work to care for an aging loved one. Some of these benefits can be found through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This act entitles eligible family caregivers to receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave within a 12-month period to care for an aging loved one.
You’re eligible for the FMLA benefits if you meet the following criteria:
Some companies provide paid or partially paid FMLA leave. For more information on FMLA rules, see the U.S. Department of Labor’s FMLA Employee Guide.
A handful of states provide some form of paid or unpaid family leave on top of the leave afforded by the federal FMLA. Additional paid family leave is critical when a large amount of time off is needed to care for a seriously ill loved one. The following states offer additional paid family leave benefits:
The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to federal and state mandates requiring companies to provide COVID-specific caregiving leave to employees. Picking up medications, providing transportation, and keeping immunocompromised loved ones safe during times of high community transmission are all examples of caregiving that may be eligible for COVID-19 special benefits or accommodations.
“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,” advised Bradley.
Many employers offer some form of a flexible spending account (FSA), which can be used for long-term caregiving costs. But, according to Colin Bradley, CEO and president of Winston Benefits in Manasquan, New Jersey, many employees often fail to take advantage of this benefit, because they do not understand that their expenses are eligible. So, it’s important to check if your employer offers this benefit.
An FSA and a dependent care FSA (DCFSA) each are employer-sponsored benefits that allow employees to contribute pretax dollars up to a certain amount annually. Some employers even make additional contributions to an FSA account as an added employee benefit. Employees can then use these funds to cover health or dependent care expenses, like respite or in-home care, depending on the type of FSA. Even better, because FSA dollars are pretax, they can reduce your taxable income.
If you’re uncertain whether your employer offers caregiver-specific benefits, reach out to your company’s HR representative to discuss your options. Many policies have been updated since the COVID-19 pandemic, so be sure to review them all to see if there have been changes. Employer benefits for caregivers may provide care resources, ways to pay for long-term care, paid time off, and more. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these benefits to find a work-life balance.
If your loved one is in need of a higher level of care than you feel you can truly provide while working, maybe it’s time to discuss their long-term care options. Perhaps part-time in-home care or only a respite care stay is all that’s needed to lighten the load. Or, maybe a senior living community is the appropriate option for the highest quality of care.
If this is a consideration, reach out to a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom for free, local advice on care options in your area. They have been helping families find the right care for decades.
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal, or financial advice or to create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney, or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.
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