AARP Report Argues For Expanding Caregivers’ Work Leave Options

A new report from AARP argues for improving family leave for
working caregivers, citing the growing population of older Americans,
increasing numbers of family caregivers on the job, and escalating demands and
stress on caregivers. Keeping Up with the Times: Supporting Family Caregivers
with Workplace Leave Policies points to three policy solutions to ease the
burden on both caregivers and employers: unpaid family and medical leave, paid
family and medical leave insurance, and earned sick time. “According to the
report, close to three out of four women of prime caregiving age are in the
workforce and 74 percent of adults with elder care responsibilities have been
in the workforce at some point in their caregiving. One in four retirees
reports leaving the workforce earlier than planned to care for an ill spouse or
other family member. One in five workers age 45 to 74 expects to take time off
for caregiving in the next five years. Policies to support better workplace
benefits for families have traditionally limited their focus to an employee’s
illness or to caring for children or other immediate relatives, the report
notes. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) limits leave for caregiving for
elderly relatives to parents or spouses, effectively excluding those caring for
in-laws, grandparents, or aunts and uncles. In addition, because FMLA leave is
unpaid, it is irrelevant to many low-income workers. It is also totally
unavailable to those working for small companies with fewer than 50 employees.
Nearly two-thirds of workers eligible for FMLA who didn’t take it reported they
couldn’t afford to take unpaid leave or were afraid of losing their job. Many
other low wage workers lack access to sick leave — paid or unpaid — the only
other supportive workplace policies available to most family caregivers.
  



Source/more: AARP Public Policy Institute

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