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What does it mean to be a Caregiver?

A caregiver is an unpaid individual who assist others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. Caregivers are often spouses, partners, family members, friends, or neighbors. Formal caregivers are paid to provide care in one’s home or in a care setting. Providing care for family members has become a way of life for millions of Americans. According to the National Alliance of Caregivers and AARP nearly, “65.7 million caregivers providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged. 52 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness. 43.5 million Adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.” Many Caregivers are faced with balancing work and caregiving responsibilities. It is estimated that 60% of caregivers are employed outside their caregiving role. This percentage is expected to grow in the next several years. The average caregiver provides unpaid care for nearly five years while remaining employed.

What Can Manager’s Do To Help?

Managers can provide support and flexible schedules for caregivers. This will help reduce the stresses on the employee, co-workers, and you, the supervisor. Caregivers may need work accommodations such as late arrival times, early departure times, scheduled time off, a reduction in work hours, changing jobs, or stopping work entirely because of caregiving responsibilities.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Another accommodation available for caregivers is FMLA. FMLA may be taken intermittently to help provide support and flexibility for a caregiver, or continuously if an employee is needed to provide full-time care for a period of time. As a manager you should:

  • Know your responsibilities as a Manager to refer employees appropriately.
  • Respect your employees’ rights under the FMLA.
  • Offer solutions such as flexible work hours, telecommuting, or job-sharing whenever possible.

Caregivers Support

Human Resource Services (HRS) regularly provide information regarding FMLA employee rights, benefits, and caregiving solutions, and are a good resource for employees and supervisors alike. HRS staff are ready to help employees with caregiving concerns. Managers should communicate with employees early and often about their concerns. Be sure to let them know that you value them as employees and want to help in any way you can. Communicate what temporary accommodations can be made in the work setting. Encourage employees to ask for help and refer them to HR.


Original: July 30, 2013
Last Update: August 1, 2013