Author: Jill Gormley, Strong and Clear Communications
When to Use
As the population ages, it will become more common for employees to assume responsibility for the care of older family members. Such responsibility can cause tremendous stress, emotional turmoil, and financial expense. Employer programs that provide flexibility, resources and assistance to employees caring for older relatives can enhance morale, aid employee retention and support productivity.
The employer should decide what components to include in an eldercare policy based on the needs of the workforce, the resources of the employer, and the employer's particular business need. Note that employers with 50 or more employees must comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and smaller employers may be subject to state laws requiring them to provide employees leave to attend to certain family responsibilities. Employers should ensure that they are complying with the requirements of any such laws that pertain to them.
The employer should formalize the eldercare policy in a written document that may be included in the employee handbook or in a benefits package. The policy may be a component of more comprehensive policies on employee leave and benefits. The policy should be communicated to employees at the commencement of employment and the employer should make sure that employees sign and acknowledge that they have received and understand the policy. Employers should refer to the policy whenever an employee requests time off or other accommodation in order to care for an elderly family member.
The model policy below lists benefits that employers may offer to assist employees who are caring for an elderly family member. Employers should adopt these benefits as their resources allow, and as appropriate for their workforce.