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Small Employers' Experiences With Family Caregiving

Most small employers (64%) think the issue of family caregiving in the workplace is very important and will continue to be important in the next five years (65%).

The vast majority (94%) agree that supporting caregivers in the workplace is the fair and right thing to do, yet fewer than two in ten employers surveyed (18%) have a formal, written policy to address family caregiving. Some employers said they had never needed a written policy, and others said they wanted to handle the issue on a case-by-case basis.

Though they believe caregiving is important, some employers perceive family caregiving as a drag on job performance, causing absenteeism and mental and emotional distraction.

The majority of small business employers surveyed (83%) believe their workplace is supportive of family caregiving. Many employers offer some type of unpaid support to employees, for example, flexible schedules, unpaid leave, or an open door policy encouraging employees to ask for assistance as needed. Employers cited financial and capacity limitations as top barriers to more progressive caregiving benefits, such as paid time off for caregivers, which very few employers (17%) offer.

In addition to tips and do-it-yourself toolkits, most small business employers are interested in manager trainings and workshops, and more than half (57%) say they would be willing to pay for these trainings (the median amount they would be willing to pay is $100). Low or no cost solutions would also be well received.

The survey was conducted between August 27 and September 17, 2018. It included 1,007 business owners and nonowner managers responsible for business operations, employees, and employee benefits. Businesses had no more than 99 employees who work 30 or more hours per week. For more information, please contact Laura Skufca at For media inquiries, please contact


Suggested Citation:

Skufca, Laura. Small Employers' Experiences With Family Caregiving. Washington, DC: AARP Research, May 2019.

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