More Companies Offering Benefits to Caregivers
U.S. companies are increasingly offering employees elder care benefits similar to those given to workers with child dependents, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Today, about one-quarter of U.S. companies offer basic elder care benefits -- mainly referrals to help find caregivers and legal services -- while about 9% of companies offer additional benefits, including extended leaves of absence and in-home care during an emergency, according to a survey released last month by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Workers who care for elderly relatives cost U.S. businesses about $34 billion annually in absenteeism, replacement costs and lost productivity, according to a survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the MetLife Foundation. The loss amounts to $2,110 for each of the estimated 15.9 million caregivers working full time, according to the survey. The survey estimates that by 2020, one in three U.S. households will be responsible for taking care of an elderly relative, compared with one in four today.
In light of this trend, a "number of big companies are scrambling to come up with solutions," the Journal reports. Companies that enroll in programs to help with emergency care for workers' elderly relatives pay an annual fee based on employee utilization. Companies typically offer the service to employees at no cost or charge a copayment of about $4 an hour.
Private agencies that offer such services can charge up to $14 an hour. Such benefits are mostly offered by companies with 500 employees or more.
Marty Martin -- vice president of employee benefits at McGraw-Hill, which offers elder care benefits -- said, "It does reduce absenteeism. And people appreciate working for an employer who has made the investment in employee services" (McQueen, Wall Street Journal, 7/27).