AGING POPULATION PROMPTS MORE EMPLOYERS TO OFFER ELDER-CARE BENEFITS TO WORKERS
The share of employers providing information about elder-care services to their employees has increased from 31 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2014, according to the 2014 Families and Work Institute’s National Study of Employers. Three-fourths of employers say they offer time off for elder care without penalizing workers, yet few offer paid leave. The share of companies allowing workers to pay for some elder care with pre-tax dollars, much like child care, has nearly doubled, to 41 percent, since 2008. Yet only 7 percent offer short-term respite care to provide working caregivers with a break.
Two-thirds of those who take care of an aging relative are working, surveys have found. A majority have been women, but a growing share are men. And as many as 40 percent of caregivers for elderly relatives say they work in inflexible environments and have been forced to reduce their work hours or quit.
While elder-care needs are growing, they are often more challenging than child care for employers and employees, said Ken Matos, senior director of employment research and practice at the Families and Work Institute.
“With child care, you know you’re going to need constant care for several years. But with the elderly, their needs wax and wane, and care is intermittent, which is frustrating to employers because so often what they rely on is predictability,” he said. “And elder care is draining. You’re inevitably heading toward the loss of someone you love.”
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