This November, San Franciscans may get to vote a new measure into law that benefits an often invisible yet growing legion of workers: long-term caregivers. This week San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu announced a measure that would allow employees who are caregivers to request a flexible work schedule, which includes job sharing, telecommuting or part-time employment.
For many families across the country, being a long-term caregiver is synonymous with being a daughter or son. Most long-term care for the elderly is provided by family and friends who provide care without compensation, sometimes in ways that amount to a full-time job. The tolls exacted on this invisible workforce are high: Caregivers report higher levels of mental and physical health problems, higher levels of stress and more reduced productivity in their places of employment than non-caregivers.
The 9 to 5 equation just doesn’t add up for the way American families operate today. Increasingly, households depend on two full-time incomes, not just one primary breadwinner, and work weeks for earners in a family often stretch beyond 40 hours. The system just isn’t operable, especially for those working adults who are providing long-term care to aging parents and raising children at home at the same time.
Accommodating family-based care with more sensible working arrangements could improve not only the quality of life for these working adults, but also the cherished elders in their care. This measure also allows companies to head off lost productivity issues at the pass. When needs are met through flexible work schedules, employees will be happier, have more energy and contribute more to the company environment.
Chiu’s measure is not only compassionate, it makes good fiscal sense.
Check out RUReadyCA.org for resources and information on planning long term care