Work Options for New Caregivers

I can see that I might have to change my situation at work soon because more of me will be needed to deal with my mom who is getting sicker by the month. What different options should I be looking in to? Any advice helps!

Shannon in Connecticut, 42

Today's business world is full of working singles, working couples, working parents, and now working caregivers. These working caregivers are often dealing with a dramatic change in personal circumstances as senior relatives who were once independent now need attention. Caregiving takes time and energy, so it’s important to be flexible so you can meet all of your commitments while you remain employed. Some alternative options include:

* Part-time Work. This can be any combination of hours that work for you and your employer: day, night, late-night, weekends, several days a week, one or two or more very long days. Part-time work can be negotiated on a day-by-day, week-by-week, or month-by-month basis. The goal here is to meet your financial needs and time management situation as you care for an elder loved one.

* Flextime: The Webster’s dictionary definition is: A system allowing individual employees some flexibility in choosing when they work. Flextime can encompass many of the components of working part time. It is usually negotiated when you are hired for a specific job, or when circumstances change either in your own life or with the business. The terms of flextime need to be mutually agreed upon so that both you and your employer benefit from the arrangement.

* Telecommuting: Telecommuting is an exciting new option that many more people are utilizing. With the ubiquity of lap tops, cell phones, faxes, and other high-tech communication devices, many people can work from any place and be reached at any time. Telecommuting may be the wave of the future since physical distance becomes less of a barrier to being productive. Many of us can work from our home office and be just as valuable to our employer. We can also save a lot of money on gas as well as wasted time commuting. That time and money can then be spent attending to our own family and other personal obligations.

* Job Sharing: This is also becoming more common in the workforce. It is when two or more people share one job, and it can be wonderful for everyone involved.

*FMLA: This allows an individual to be away from the workplace because of military, maternity, or child rearing issues. Many employees also now need time to meet elder care responsibilities. Unfortunately, not all companies or employers include this as part of their employee benefit package. Ask you employer about this benefit and if it is not included yet, work with your Human Resources department to consider adding what will surely be a growing need.

* Paid Leave: Paid leave is when you need to be away from work for personal reasons and you continue to be paid by your employer. There are usually time limits set varying from several days to several months. There may also be some restrictions as to how much you will be paid during an absence, so please be sure to negotiate all details before you being any paid leave program.

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