ELDER CARE: More Companies Offering Programs
Responding to studies that connect decreased productivity levels to employees who care for elderly relatives, a growing number of employers are creating elder care programs to take the pressure off their workers, USA Today reports. An estimated 25% of households currently care for elderly relatives or friends, and polls indicate that the number of employers offering elder-care benefits has increased from 20% in 1990 to 47% in 1999. Benefits include counseling, long term care insurance and referral services. More than 80% of workers say that they have had to adjust their work schedules, or even quit their jobs, because of caregiving responsibilities for an elderly relative. AT&T spokesperson Burke Stinson said, "The whole topic of elder care took a back seat to child care in this country. Corporations are finally trying to do something." AT&T provides their employees with a referral service, flexible scheduling and a 12-month unpaid leave policy. At IBM, employees receive a discount on an emergency care assistance program for their elderly relatives, as well as a referral system and counseling. Bristol-Myers Squibb has a 16-week unpaid leave policy and pays 80% of the cost of emergency backup elder care for its employees. To date, only larger employers generally offer elder care programs, but many experts believe that smaller companies will offer programs as the workplace ages (Armour, 8/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.