Employers Accommodating Elder Care Needs

Physician's Money Digest, January 2007, Volume 14, Issue 1

As the elderly population continues to rise, the need for people to devote time to care for their aging parents is climbing as well, which puts a strain on their place of employment. According to the Wall Street Journal, because employees need to take time off work to provide care for their family, absenteeism becomes a problem in the workplace. While the Family and Medical Leave Act allows US employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year, most workers can’t afford to not get paid, and some never return to work at all. A joint survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the MetLife Foundation found that US businesses lose up to $34 billion per year due to absenteeism, hiring replacement workers, and other lost productivity when workers leave to tend to their parents, problems that you may have experienced in your own practice. To combat this, more employers are offering expanded eldercare benefits to their employees, including extended leaves of absence, referral services to professional caregivers, subsidized in-home care for emergencies, and flexible working arrangements. Some companies allow other employees to donate paid time off to fellow staff members who have run out of leave. For more information on elderly care services, visit the Department of Health and Human Services' Eldercare Locator Web site at www.eldercare.gov, or the Web site for the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers at www.caremanager.org.