The majority of employed Canadians also have caregiving responsibilities. Most commonly, employed caregivers of are middle-aged, single, childless women with lower incomes who combine their paid work with care for an elderly parent who has chronic health problems. Many report these responsibilities negatively impact their work, including scheduling changes, reduction of hours, a reduction income, and lost opportunity costs such as training, promotion, and overtime (MS Society, 2009; Williams, 2004). Health Canada reports that more than 25% of caregivers have quit, retired or experienced other job changes as a result of their caregiving obligations (2002). Employed female caregivers are more likely to make workplace adjustments than male caregivers (Walker, 2005). It is estimated that the Canadian cost of absenteeism due to caregiving responsibilities is between $1-4 billion.
The demands placed on employed caregivers can be taxing. Employed caregivers of older adults are then at higher risk for a conflict in balancing work and life, resulting in caregiver strain from a decrease in mental and health. Financial strain can also be an issue, either through a decline in income or through an increase in costs. Not only is this a threat to current income, it also penalizes caregivers’ ability to generate retirement pension/income. Only 35% of households with caregivers report income over $45 000 (Health Canada, 2002).
Studies indicate that there are very few differences in need for employed caregiver supports (i.e. no difference between job sector or type). This is an important finding as it highlights the ability for organizations to put policies and practices in place to address these needs (Williams, 2004).