Aging Options

AARP links elder caregiving to need for employment discrimination policies

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An estimated 22 percent of American households are impacted by caregiving responsibilities according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and of those approximately 59 percent either work full or part-time while providing care.  The impact on the ability of these caregivers to work is significant.  From needing flexible hours to allowing caregivers to go to work later or leave work earlier to being forced to turn down promotion opportunities, family caregivers can lose as much as $659,000 in wages, pensions and Social Security in lifetime benefits.  As a growing number of caregivers combine their participation in the workforce with unpaid caregiving work, there’s a growing need to ensure that those workers receive equal employment opportunities and are protected from discrimination in the workplace.

A report from the AARP Public Policy Institute highlights the need to create workplace protections against family responsibilities discrimination (FRD) while recognizing the limited scope of current protections offered by law.  AARP calls for greater recognition of and supportive services for family caregivers while providing basic equal employment opportunities.  Without such policies, family caregivers already in the workforce risk losing jobs while providing much needed support at home.

A number of factors will make FRD discrimination policies important in the near future.  The number of Americans 65 or older is expected to grow to about 72 million by 2030 and the current economic crisis is likely to force many older Americans to remain in the workforce for longer than they originally planned to prepare for retirement.  The number of older (55+) women in the workforce is also increasing and those individuals are more likely to have caregiving responsibilities at home.

To read the entire AARP Public Policy Report go here.

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