Supporting Unpaid Family Caregivers at Work: How Employers Can Make a Difference

Unpaid family caregivers are individuals who provide care to a loved one, such as a parent, spouse, or child, without receiving any financial compensation. Caregiving can be a challenging role, and when combined with a full-time job, it can be incredibly demanding and stressful. What do we mean? Here is an example of a caregiver's to-do list (in a nutshell): 
  1. Wake up.
  2. Administer medications or medical treatments.
  3. Take a shower.
  4. Get dressed.
  5. Coordinate care for family members who need it.
  6. Drive to work.
  7. Work 8+ hours.
  8. Drive home.
  9. Make dinner.
  10. Clean. 
  11. Prep lunch for the next day. 
  12. Bathe those who need support with bathing.
  13. Get everyone ready for bed.
  14. Get yourself ready for bed.
  15. Try to fall asleep.
  16. Do it again in the morning. 

Also, these, sprinkled throughout the day and week:

  • Attend medical appointments with family members
  • Manage finances and paperwork related to caregiving
  • Provide emotional support and companionship to family members
  • Coordinate with other family members or caregivers to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding care
  • Deal with unexpected emergencies or health crises

The list is long. It's unique to everyone going through it. And it's incredibly overwhelming. However, with the right support from their employers, unpaid family caregivers can better balance their responsibilities and maintain their productivity at work.

Employers have an important role to play in supporting their employees who are unpaid family caregivers.

Here are some ways that employers can help:

  1. Flexible Work Schedules: Employers can offer flexible work schedules to unpaid family caregivers. This can include options such as flexible start and end times, the ability to work from home, and the ability to take time off when needed. Flexibility in work schedules can allow caregivers to attend to their family's needs while still being able to fulfill their work responsibilities.

  2. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): EAPs can provide resources and support to unpaid family caregivers. This can include counseling services, legal and financial advice, and caregiver support groups. EAPs can also offer referrals to local resources, such as respite care services, which can provide temporary relief to caregivers.

  3. Paid Family Leave: Employers can offer paid family leave to unpaid family caregivers. This would allow caregivers to take time off from work to care for their loved ones without sacrificing their income. Paid family leave can also help caregivers maintain their financial stability while dealing with the added expenses of caregiving.

  4. Employee Education: Employers can educate their employees about the challenges of unpaid family caregiving and provide information on available resources. This can help to reduce the stigma associated with caregiving and increase understanding and support from co-workers.

  5. Supportive Work Culture: Employers can foster a supportive work culture that values and supports employees who are unpaid family caregivers. This can include providing opportunities for employees to share their caregiving experiences and offering resources and support for all employees to maintain their well-being.

Unpaid family caregivers with full-time jobs face unique challenges, but with the right support from their employers, they can balance their responsibilities and maintain their productivity at work. Employers can play an essential role in providing the necessary resources and support to help their employees manage the demands of caregiving while still fulfilling their work responsibilities. By doing so, employers can help their employees maintain their well-being and improve their job performance.

Does your employer get it right? We want to hear about it! Reach out to us at to share your story. 

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