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Caregiving

Why Employers Care

In the United States, an estimated 43.5 million adults provided unpaid caregiving to an adult or child within the last 12 months (2015).1 Close to 60% of caregivers work at least part-time and approximately 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid caregiving to an adult age 50 or older within the last 12 months (2015).1 These individuals have been acting as caregivers for an average of 4.6 years.2

Caregiving is an important topic for employers for several reasons. First, employees who act as caregivers have 8% higher health care costs on average which translated to $13.4 billion in additional cost to U.S. employers in 2010.3 Second, the emotional impact on employees and employers can be significant. Caregivers often forego self-care, which impacts their own well-being; increased anxiety and lower health status may result. Employee caregivers may also be less effective and productive at work, a problem compounded by lack of supervisor training and guidance on how to support the employee caregiver while managing employee and work unit output. The economic impact of caregiving on employees and employers is potentially significant. Employees may be forced to move from full-time to part-time work or forego promotions or transfers due to caregiving obligations. Employers may see increases in absenteeism costs, workday interruptions, or the need to replace caregivers who can no longer remain employed.4

What Can Employers Do?

In March 2015, a Business Group Quick Survey revealed that 69% of respondent employers did not have a paid leave program for child or elder care.

Employers who wish to create an environment that supports caregivers can consider the following options for their employees4:

  1. Allow workplace accommodations including flexible hours, working from home and modified duties.
  2. Develop education materials for employees about issues related to care during an advanced illness.
  3. Include questions in the organization's health assessments about advanced illness preparation and caregiving issues.
  4. Develop learning tools that encompass planning for future significant life events including pregnancy, education and retirement.

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References (show references)

1 Caregiving in the United States 2015. AARP. http://www.aarp.org/ppi/info-2015/caregiving-in-the-united-states-2015.html. June 2015

2 Novelli B, Koutsoumpas T. A Roadmap for Success: Transforming Advanced Illness Care in America. C-TAC. 2015: 7-8.

3 MetLife Mature Market Institute, National Alliance for Caregiving, University of Pittsburgh. The MetLife study of working caregivers and employer health care costs. February 2010.

4 Pawlecki B, Kalen P. The Role of Employers: Taking a Proactice Approach. In Novelli B, Koutsoumpas T. A Roadmap for Success: Transforming Advanced Illness Care in America. C-TAC. 2015: 64-74.

Page last updated: November 12, 2015

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