Americans tasked with caring for both their young children and their aging family members understand the meaning behind the nickname, “The Sandwich Generation” all too well.
Juggling the demands of full-time employment, raising their children, and keeping tabs on (in some cases being completely responsible for) their elderly parents is no easy task. This growing group of overachievers knows that every responsibility in their life is vitally important, so dropping the ball isn’t an option.
In a June 2016 survey conducted by Deloitte Consulting LOP, it’s obvious that better benefits are a high priority to modern American employees.
Many employees, male and female, are coming to expect the flexibility to support caregiving and family needs, and employers can help by ensuring their people are not stuck deciding between their job and family.”
-Deepa Purushothaman, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and national managing principal of Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative
Nearly nine out of ten respondents to the survey indicated that family care (beyond the constraints of maternity and parental leave) that includes caring for aging parents, sick spouses, and even grandchildren would represent a great value for them in their workplace.
New legislation may support family caregivers
The National Partnership for Women & Families and the AARP are two agencies actively working toward legislation that would support Americans who are caring for aging family members and spouses.
When people who must care for a sick family member or make arrangements for their care need time off of work, they are often faced with options like taking their own sick leave, asking their employer for unpaid time off, or taking any vacation time they may have built up. A paid leave insurance program would offer these workers a means by which to care for their loved ones’ needs without compromising their own financial well-being.
The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act calls for a paid medical and family leave program that would benefit everyone. Only 13% of Americans currently have paid family leave through their full-time jobs. Disability programs often provide relief, but just 40% of Americans enjoy personal medical leave through their employer.
The FAMILY Act provides up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave from a full-time job in order to care for a new baby (biological or adopted), serious personal health issues, or the health of a parent, child, spouse, or domestic partner.
The framework of the FAMILY Act is based on successful programs that currently exist in New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California. These three programs provide measurable benefits to participants and employees.
Several companies are already responding to the call for expanded medical leave programs. As paternity leave programs become more common among the list of benefits offered to employees, leave that allows paid time off to care for ailing loved ones is expected to follow.