Unpaid Caregiving and Employer Challenges

Every day, along with their day jobs, about 25% (5 million employees) of Canada’s workforce is also providing unpaid physical, cognitive and/or mental health care for family members.  On average those people are adding the equivalent of a half time job to their week. 

The amount of workday time varies.

The challenge for employers and the caregiving employees is that the demands on their time are not consistent and predictable – for some, it might be a few days or months at a high level of intensity, for some it is long-term with a lower level of intensity and for others it a combination of intensity and times.

Over the next 10 years as the Canadian population ages, the number of unpaid caregivers in the workforce will increase to about 40% of employees providing unpaid caregiving at some point. Along with increased job-protected, family care-related leaves, employers will be under increasing pressure to:

  • Ensure compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Act regarding discrimination and Duty to Accommodate
  • Establish workplace management processes to manage the challenges associated with:
    • Needs for irregular time off
    • Increased flexibility in the use of vacation hours and sick time
    • Flexibility with employees using time during the regular workday to deal with caregiving business (appointments, dealing with the variety of demands related to providing care, ranging from making appointments to dealing with a multitude of responsibilities associated with helping/managing another’s life).

Employers can minimize the impacts on caregiver and other employees’ productivity along with other related business costs by identifying and implementing management practices and processes, including access to benefits programs that provide support for caregivers.

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