Caregiving While Working

Meeting the needs of your loved ones and your employer

Caregiving can be time consuming and can often interfere with your job responsibilities.   

An estimated 25 million Americans attempt to balance career responsibilities with caregiving responsibilities. With so many workers caring for parents, spouses, children or friends today, employers have become more understanding of the demands caregiving can create.   

Here are some tips that may make balancing your responsibilities easier: 

Talk to your boss

Although it’s not legally required, it’s important to share your personal situation with your supervisor. Be honest about your role as a caregiver and what it requires. 

Ask about schedule adjustments

If mornings are difficult because your home health aide doesn’t come until 9 a.m. or you have to take your loved one to a doctor’s appointment every Tuesday at 3 p.m., ask your employer whether a more flexible work schedule is possible. Some options that may be available include:   

  • Shifted start times (i.e., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • Flexible hours
  • Set hours, with a cap on mandatory overtime
  • A compressed work schedule (i.e., four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days)
  • Job sharing
  • Telecommuting
  • Working from home one or two days a week 

Investigate leave options

Can you take vacation or personal days – or hours – to run errands or care for your loved one? Could you take unpaid leave – either offered by your company or under the Family and Medical Leave Act – to get things organized and the person you are caring for settled into a new routine? 

When you’re at work, focus on work

During the day, try to limit the amount of time you spend thinking about caring for your loved one or scheduling doctor’s appointments. Conduct as much non-work business as possible during your lunch hour or breaks. 

Update coworkers

While you may be hesitant to get too personal with colleagues, it can be polite to share the basics of your new situation – especially if your caregiving responsibilities are impacting your work. Let them know if you’ll be out regularly, or if your schedule is changing.   

Also, don’t forget to thank coworkers who pick up any additional workload on your behalf. Offer to return the favor once your situation stabilizes.