Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Unpaid Leave Helps Middle-aged Caregivers Keep TheirJobs

As the nation ages, so does the psychological distress endured by both men and women caregivers, according to Indiana University sociologist Eliza Pavalko. In a new study--"Combining Care Work and Paid Work: Do Workplace Policies Make a Difference?"--published in the May issue of the journal Research on Aging, Pavalko and co-author Kathryn Henderson found that while middle-aged women who become caregivers for an ill or disabled family member are more likely to leave their jobs altogether than reduce their hours, unpaid family leave, of all family-friendly benefits, proved most useful in helping caregivers keep their jobs.
These findings comes in the face of two trends, a workforce that is both increasingly female and aging, meaning that more and more working men and women will encounter the challenges of caring for parents and other loved ones. During the six-year study period, 13 percent of the employed women surveyed provided substantial levels of care for ill or disabled family members at least once. Caregivers who leave the workforce not only experience the immediate loss of their income and other employment benefits but face the prospect of reduced Social Security benefits later in life.

"Despite growing attention to family-friendly policies in the workplace, we know surprisingly little about whether they help families manage the burden of care work," Pavalko said. "Employers may be particularly interested to find that the relatively inexpensive benefit of unpaid family leave is so effective for reducing employee turnover."
An interview is available with Pavalko from Inside Indiana Business.

Source: News Release Indiana University (April 24, 2006)

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