I am pleased to see that the Canadian Human Rights Commission has taken steps to acknowledge the impact of working caregiver stress and workplace challenges with its production of the Guide to Balancing Work and Caregiving Obligations which is available for free. This guide includes caring for children, adults and seniors but for the purposes of my work I will discuss senior support.
I like seeing that the definition of “family” includes in-laws, grandchildren, and even friends since we know that it is not just children who provide support and care to a senior. Their statement of a “duty to accommodate” a caregiver makes a firm declaration to employers that these workplace challenges must be recognized and responded to with compassion and flexibility. Long gone are the days when employees only called in to take care of a sick child. Employees must now leave work early, make phone calls from work or take a leave of absence due to elder care situations as well. In fact, much of the care provided by caregivers is not in response to a crisis, but just daily support required to keep a senior at home safely or to drive them to a medical appointment.
What I would have liked to see in this Guide are some proactive steps that employers can take to provide their employees with information sessions to improve employee awareness as to the likelihood that they will become a caregiver. This early awareness is a means to reduce crises later as families will have time to prepare legal documents and to have family discussions surrounding care and support that they would like as they age. When employees (and anybody) are well-prepared crises are reduced and there will be less impact on work performance. Preparation and pro-active planning is really a win-win.
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