While at times our aging parents and loved ones need some extra care and guidance, it can of course be challenging to speak to your employer and tell them about how you need to manage increased caregiving needs. How does one best make sure they’re successfully balancing the needs of their loved ones while making sure to fulfill their responsibilities at work?
More than one in six people living in the United States today who work either full time or part time are also helping with the care of an aging parent, family member, relative, or friend. And many of these people are afraid to talk to their employees and hold back on talking to their bosses for fear that they won’t get paid if they need to take a leave, or they’ll look bad for not being able to manage their existing work load. In person conversations with any managers or supervisors you may have are very important, as well as being transparent and becoming more confident in doing so.
Before you go speaking to a manager, research and assess all the support you may have around you, such as your spouse, any adult or older children, or other family members that can help out, and you can also consider in-home care or adult day health. Additionally, your work may have several accommodations and resources to offer that you may or may not be aware of. Many employers have a corporate policy that will grant an employee a leave of absence to care for an aging or sick loved one. Your human resources department is always available to provide guidance on what options are available to you before you speak to your direct manager.
If you’re thinking about reducing your schedule to help with giving care to your loved one, you can propose reducing daily hours, working from home, or stepping down to a part-time employee. Consider asking your co-workers to help you with some of your work load, or try switching to a new schedule depending on the type of job. It is important to find ideas that work for both you and your employer.
The financial burden of taking time off work can be challenging. If possible, borrowing from a retirement plan can help you in the here and now, and then you can slowly pay it back. You may also be able to take a payout of earned or vacation time. Meeting with a financial advisor may also be beneficial for getting guidance on what the best financial options are for you, before deciding how to proceed.
Oftentimes, there will be some paperwork involved with requesting leave for medical or caregiver reasons. It’s important to keep track of all the relevant paperwork, especially with doctors and nurses, and keep track of which documents you’ll need to bring with you to speak to your employer. Some employers may require you to provide them a specific form or document for requesting time off, or for their own internal records.