Caregiver employees: does providing care damage your professional life?

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In Canada, caregivers make up 30% of the workforce: 5.6 millions of employees are caregivers for a total of 8.1 millions caregivers in the country (30% of the population). Most caregivers work full-time. Nevertheless, 1 person out of 2 thinks declaring themselves a caregiver to their employer can damage their career.

3 Canadians out of 10 care for a relative in a state of dependance

30% of Canadians care on a regular basis for a relative or a friend in a state of dependance. The same percentage applies to employees. Facing a worldwide demographic transition, this number will keep increasing. Strategies are currently under development to reduce economic and productivity costs due to an increasing need for the flexilibily of work conditions for caregiver employees.

In September 2014, the study “Combining care work and paid work: Is it sustainable?” by RAAP (Research on Aging, Policies, and Practice) and presented that was presented in the University of Alberta revealed that 44% of caregivers leave work 8 to 9 days a year on average, in order to provide care for their relative. Relationship of the care receiver to the caregiver and intensity of care are the main determinants of absenteeism. Statistically speaking, caregivers who live in the same household as the care receiver are at greater risk of exiting the paid labour force by being fired, quitting, or retiring early.

The productivity losses due to absenteeism are quite significant: 9.7 million days lost, 256 million fewer hours of paid work, and the loss of 557,698 caregiver employees who left the paid labour force altogether to provide care full-time.

Consequently, nearly half of caregiver employees believe that asking for flex work arrangements will have a negative impact on their careers,despite the fact that the availability of flexible work schedules and leave options seem especially effective at reducing the incidence of absenteeism. Few employees telework.

In light of these numbers, which apply to a large portion of the Canadian population, the government launched the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan (CECP) in order for caregivers to participate as fully as possible in the workforce.The CECP aims to complete other activities by the Canadian government and its partners to supports caregivers. It has three distinct elements:

  1. establishing a panel with employers to work on workplace practices that support caregivers;
  2. analyzing the cost-benefit of workplace practices and supplying business case information;
  3. exploring mechanisms to ensure employer engagement on a long-term basis.

Caring for caregivers: a massive awareness in light of the ageing of the world population

These measures answer a larger and larger proportion of caregivers in the workforce: this goes beyond Canada. For instance, in France, no leave option meant for caregivers are paid for; however, the law for adapting society to ageing offers specific measures to accompany caregivers. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, caregivers can take 10 days paid of paid leave a year to provide care for a relative in addition to paid leave for “familial emergencies”. In Italy, caregivers can take 3 days of leave per month without losing income.

Being a caregiver can be difficult. Accompanying caregivers is one of the major objectives of Silver economy: caregivers should be formed, receive psychological and medical support, they should have a right to respite, have an easy access to information and to qualified professionals.

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