Today millions of American workers have no paid or unpaid sick leave. Each day they face the loss of pay or loss of their jobs if they need to care for their loved ones. Yet they still do remarkable things, juggling both their work and caregiving tasks. Here are the facts:
- The average family caregiver works full or part time while they are caregiving.
- Forty-two percent of U.S. workers have provided care for an aging relative or friend in the past nine years, while 49 percent expect to in the next five years.
- Seven in 10 working family caregivers say they have made accommodations in their work schedules to care for their loved ones.
- Caregivers who leave the workplace lose an average of $304,000 in wages.
That’s why AARP is fighting in states across the country to help strengthen workplace protections for family caregivers. Policies like family leave and paid or unpaid sick time give family caregivers the opportunity to manage their caregiving responsibilities — without having to choose between their jobs and their loved ones. Some states are already making progress.
In New Jersey, two cities, Jersey City and Newark, have passed laws that allow employees to earn paid sick leave to care for a loved one. Under these new ordinances, family caregivers who are full-time private-sector employees will be able to take the time for their caregiving duties when needed. Now, AARP New Jersey is fighting for a statewide mandatory paid sick-leave law to help the 1.9 million family caregivers in the Garden State.
“Sick leave is critical not only for working parents with young children, but also for workers caring for grandchildren or aging parents,” said Marilyn Askin, volunteer advocate with AARP New Jersey.
In Minnesota, legislators passed a large bill (the Women’s Economic Security Act) to give family caregivers additional flexibility and protection in the workplace. The act will benefit the state’s 679,000 family caregivers in several different ways:
- It broadens the state’s sick leave law to allow someone caring for a sick grandchild or in-law to take paid time off.
- It prevents employers from discriminating against persons with elder care responsibilities.
If you are a family caregiver, you’re not alone.