Today, May 1, is May Day. Also known as International Worker’s Rights Day.
Today is a day to celebrate the 8-hour work day and many other protections we have today as modern workers. While a lot of progress has been made, there is still a long way to go!
Many benefits that are offered in other parts of the globe and among progressive employers here in the States are out of reach for most Americans, including paid family leave.
A lot of people think that paid family leave is just for parents. When I hear that, and I think of all the people who have had to leave a job or lost their income due to caregiving responsibilities, I literally want to weep.
It shouldn’t be this way.
It just so happens that every single day family caregivers lose their jobs or are forced to walk away from a career they love so they can take care of a family member.
I am no exception. In fact, three of the five millennials I interviewed for my blogiversary left the workforce to launch their own businesses due to caregiving. They needed freedom and flexibility in their lives to take care of their loved ones. We, however, are the minority. Only 1 in 6 family caregivers become self-employed. (AARP, 2015)
The majority of people who are caring for their family are working. According to AARP, out of the nearly 40 million family caregivers in the United States, approximately 6 out of every 10 are employed. (AARP, 2015)
6 in 10 caregivers also report caregiving’s impact on work, like having to cut back on hours, take a leave of absence, or getting written up for performance or attendance. (AARP, 2015)
Even though the majority of caregivers are working, few employers offer paid family leave. They are not required to by law.
Unless you have a forward-thinking, progressive employer that offers flexible work arrangements and family-friendly policies, the only way you have of keeping your job safe in the event you need to take leave is by taking FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). FMLA simply holds your job safe for you. You don’t get paid while you are on FMLA.
More needs to be done to level the playing field.
As our nation is on the verge of a demographic crisis, we need to lift our voices and share our stories to raise awareness around how caregiving impacts employment.
Sweeping change are needed to support those caring for their family members. If we don’t get to work now, an entire generation will have to exit the workforce to take care of their parents. After all, they ARE getting old.
Only four states—California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island—currently have paid family and medical leave policies. We have a long way to go.