Fall 2017

Workplace Support for Caregivers

 Caregivers are not looking for handouts. Our jobs are a large part of our identity and of course our source of income. We are looking for solutions to balancing work while meeting increased family obligations.

The Canadian Human Rights Act dictates that when an employee must care for a family member, employers have a legal obligation to accommodate that employee… employees, employers and unions must cooperate to find reasonable and practical solutions. 

The Issue
Support for caregivers is a legitimate and increasing issue in today’s workplace. As the number of seniors grows, so does the need for families to take on increasing responsibility for their care.
•    70% of caregivers work full time. This number has tripled in the last 15 years.
•    35% of employed Canadians are also providing informal care to a family member or friend.
•    By 2026, over 2.4 million Canadians age 65+ will require unpaid continuing care supports
     —up 71 per cent from 2011. By 2046, this number will reach nearly 3.3 million

The Employee’s Responsibility - employees have a responsibility to proactively seek solutions when caregiving impacts their work.

1. Talk to your employer. Be clear and specific about your needs. Be willing to discuss the issues, consider alternatives, and agree to reasonable compromises.
2. Know the supports available to you through the government, Employee Health Benefits and collective agreements.
3. Build a support system with a variety of caregiving options, practice effective time management, and plan ahead for the unexpected.  
4. Practice self-care. Did you know that caregivers experience chronic health conditions twice the rate of general population?

The Employer’s Responsibility - employers have a responsibility to develop supports for caregivers and a culture that encourages employees to use these supports.

The time for caregiver support is now. Governments are changing employment legislation to protect caregivers in the workplace.
The following documents not only outline the case for support but also offer valuable solutions.
1. The Manitoba Caregiver Recognition Act (2011)), the first provincial act of its kind in Canada.  
2. A Guide to Balancing Work and Caregiving Obligations: collaborative approaches for a supportive and well-performing workplace. The Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2014.
3. When Work and Caregiving Collide: How Employers Can Support Their Employees Who Are Caregivers. The report commissioned by the Government of Canada. 2015.

Unions and Professional Associations have a responsibility to provide appropriate supports for members balancing work and care. 

We can spot a Care Aware workplace right away because the program is so visible. We see supports in lunch room posters, in the employee newsletters and company emails.  When a program is visible we know the commitment is there.” Manitoba Caregiver Coalition

Further Reading

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