The many responsibilities of caring for someone often leads to job conflicts. Many caregivers helping their parents, older relatives or friends are working full or part time.
Work is a financial necessity and a major source of personal satisfaction. But for many, the twin responsibilities of caregiving and working too often conflict. People eager to succeed in both can be caught in the middle.
The following tips provide an overview of the caregiving/working issue for employees and employers and offers ideas and resources that can help you manage your responsibilities efficiently and balance your roles more effectively.
Coping with Double Demands
- Each working caregiver's job is different. Even within the same company, different managers may be more or less supportive of your situation. If you're uncomfortable raising this issue with your supervisor, look in the personnel manual or other human resources publication to learn about your company's policy on caregivers. Does it offer benefits or services that could help with your situation?
- Ask your employer if there is an employee assistance program.
- Take advantage of flex-time policies. Consider asking for a flexible schedule if a formal policy is not in place.
- Offer to work a less desirable shift or be willing to make up time taken for caregiving by working days or shifts when most people want to be off. This flexibility on your part shows your employer that you are committed to the company and your job.
- Consider job sharing or working part time if possible.
- Avoid mixing work with caregiving. If you need to make phone calls or search the Internet for information related to your loved one's needs, do it on a lunch break.
- Manage your time well. When you must take time off for caregiving, set priorities and accomplish the most important things first. Delegate responsibilities when you can. Pace yourself; don't do so much in one area that you can't be effective in another.
- Get all the support you can from family members, friends and community resources.
- Take care of your own needs. Pay attention to your health; get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. Having fun is also important. Take a break when the pressure gets too great. Talk with someone about your feelings and needs. This could be a professional counsellor, a member of the clergy or an employee assistance counsellor.
- Talk with your work supervisor about your caregiving issues. It's better to let your employer know the reasons for your late arrivals or seeming preoccupation instead of risking him or her drawing the wrong conclusions.
- Be sure to thank those at work for the consideration and assistance you receive. Perhaps you can agree to take on an extra assignment or special project when you do have time or help a colleague who may have heavy family or other responsibilities.
Above reprinted with permission from AARP.
Know Your Rights
The Canada Labour Code provides for compassionate care leave, to all employees without exception, in Division VII. Employees are entitled to up to 8 weeks of compassionate care leave to provide care and support to a gravely ill family member. Some provincial legislature grants a longer leave than the 8 weeks guaranteed by the Code. A certificate is required from a qualified medical practitioner, stating that the family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks. This only guarantees job security for you while you take this leave; it does not make any provisions requiring your employer to pay you during this leave.