Are you a caregiver? Are you also an employee? Just when you think life is difficult, the challenges can continue to mount. How do you fit everything in?
It’s a balancing act that never ends. So how can you make it less stressful?
Research Your Rights
Don’t just sit back and stay quiet about your responsibilities. Instead, dive in and do a little research into what laws and regulations are in place to protect you.
The Family and Medical Leave Act – FMLA – allows employees to take up to twelve weeks of leaving a year to caring for a child, spouse, or parent. Workers are guaranteed a position of similar skill and pay as they held before they took the leave. However, it only applies to workplaces with 50 or more employees, and you must have been in your current position for at least one year. In addition, the leave is unpaid, so that can add to your stress.
Also, different cities and municipalities have passed their own laws regarding family leave, so it’s wise to check with your local government offices to find out what rules apply to you. Read your employee handbook. Check with your state labor office. And spend some time with Google to learn your rights.
Talk With Your Employer
In some cases, employees are nervous about speaking up about their situation. If this defines your approach, rethink your strategy. Transparency is a good thing. It can explain distractions and time away. It can also make employers more aware of your needs.
Being honest with both your supervisor and your human resources department gives them a better understanding of what you’re up against. They will better understand when you call in sick, for example, and you’ll be able to talk more freely about what’s happening at home.
This also gives you a chance to think of ways to create a win/win situation for everyone.
If you frequently need time off to bring mom to doctors’ offices, you can discuss how you can be available by bringing your own device with you wherever you go. Or maybe flextime will benefit you both – you can have off the mornings you need while working late into an evening when nobody else chooses to work late.
Ask For Help
Help comes in all different ways. Hire a housekeeper to help keep your home clean. Hire an in-home caregiver to help keep your mom company while you’re at work. By freeing up even a few hours each week, you’ll have a greater chance of feeling like you have more balance in place.
You should also ask your HR department what ways they can help. For example, some agencies offer financial help or leave sharing programs where employees who don’t use sick or annual leave can donate it to others in need. This can give you a chance to have a few fewer worries when you’re in stressful situations.
Reassess Your Work Life
Balance is always a question of what works for you. It’s not something that remains stable; it changes from day today. The better relationship you build with your employer, the more flexibility you may have.
Can you work-share with another employee in a similar situation? Can you take a part-time position instead of remaining full-time?
Caregiving can be a profound experience, one that changes every day. So this might be the perfect time to switch gears, spend time with the one you love, and reassess life’s path now and into the future.