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Protecting Caregivers from Discrimination in the Workplace
Posted By Patti Shea On August 30, 2012 @ 1:22 pm In Take Care | Comments Disabled
Working caregivers, have you heard that tone of voice from your workplace manager? You know the one where it sounds like he’s perpetually disappointed in you? You’re not imagining it. It’s real, or so says a new report by AARP.
According to our report, a staggering 42 percent of U.S. workers provided unpaid eldercare in the past five years, while 49 percent expect to do so for a family member or friend in the coming five years. The average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends up to 20 hours a week providing unpaid care for a loved one. In 2009 dollars, monetary value of their unpaid contributions is $450 BILLION. (This exceeds the profits of either Exxon or WalMart.)
And this affects employers how? Well, today more than 40 million people, that’s one in every eight, are age 65 and older – which will balloon to 72 million by 2030. An aging workforce will likely care for their aging parents, who are living longer.
So what does this mean for employers who are woefully unprepared for this? It means change should start at the federal and state levels to help guide employers and their working caregivers. But let’s just focus on the states for now.
Only four states – Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey and Oregon, plus the District of Columbia – have laws that protect family caregivers that exceed federal protections. The report says additions to workplace discrimination laws are needed to help family caregivers. Just what changes can states make?
That’s asking a lot! OK, but what can employers do? The report suggests:
Studies have shown that working caregivers, while some might have odd hours, are more loyal to an employer who is flexible to their needs. Change like this isn’t easy or fast, of course. But it is sensible. Who knows, one day these employers might find themselves in a caregiving situation and understand what we caregivers go through each day.
The report reviews the most horrific of caregiver discrimination lawsuits, (start on Page 6) which I won’t go into, but check them out.
What about you? Does your employer or state allow flexible schedules for working caregivers? Check out the report and fact sheet yourself. And if you’re currently a caregiver, check out the AARP Caregivers Resource Center.
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