Family leave: are you caught in a carer’s sandwich?


The benefits of paid parental leave are well known – for newborn babies and adults alike. A time for bonding, mothers are more likely to breastfeed for longer and also more likely to stay in the workforce if they are given enough time off to care for their babies.

However, it is usually just young mothers who benefit from parental leave (rather than family leave) the most.

But a new initiative from consultancy firm Deloitte in the US aims to make leave more inclusive and could set the template for leave in the future. The Deloitte policy offers leave not just to new parents but to any employee who has caring responsibilities.

At a time when people are living longer, many employees are finding that as their caring responsibilities for children lessen, so the caring demands for elderly relatives increase. They are caught in the middle of a caring sandwich.

At Deloitte, anyone in theory can take advantage of family leave to care for a baby, adopted child or a sick relative. What that does is level the playing field for men and women in the workplace, potentially making it more commonplace for men to spend time at home with their newborn child, for example. Or making it permissible for a senior executive to spend a month off with a sick parent.

The policy also means that leave isn’t something that only appeals to younger generations, and diffuses the resentment occasionally felt by older workers around young mothers taking longer periods of maternity leave. Universal family leave might also influence hiring managers when deciding who to recruit and who to advance.

Currently, in Australia, Deloitte offers 14 weeks paid parental leave and says there are no immediate plans to follow suit, although it will be reviewing the US policy around family leave.

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Melissa Richardson
Melissa Richardson
5 years ago

This is a really important issue. Thank you for out for giving it visibility.

Tanya Heaney-Voogt
Tanya Heaney-Voogt
5 years ago

It is so refreshing to see this issue being raised in the AHRI media. I am definitely smack in the middle of a big fat carer sandwich and there are times I’ve rethought my career as I grapple to cope with these demands. A policy such as Deloitte’s would certainly ease some of that burden. It is a fact we are living longer and these demands will only increase. Holistically policies such as this could keep people out of aged care or hospital and therefore have a positive impact on the economy overall. Business size of course would be a… Read more »

Roxanne Elliott
Roxanne Elliott
5 years ago

Forward thinking employers are well aware of the benefit of working with employees to help them balance their responsibilities as a parent with their work commitments. This issue is addressed through various employee assistance programs which help employees source child care and working flexibly. What many employers overlook in their planning is the caring responsibilities faced by employees with older parents and the impacts this could have on business. Research has shown that services such as Deloitte USA deliver strong business benefits for a business at a relatively low cost. In fact, AARP reports that companies in the USA reap… Read more »

Tracey Browne
Tracey Browne
5 years ago

This is a very important issue, but I think it needs to go broader than the general concept of “caring”. Before my parents were in aged care, I though the responsibilities lessened once you “handed them over” to someone else. However, the reality was that visiting obligations became stronger as they got less able and going outside normal working hours was not always practical. The management staff at the facility generally work 9 to 5, Monday to Friday; and Mum and Dad were not at their best at the end of the day. So whilst I was not technically “caring”… Read more »

Amanda Woodard
Amanda Woodard
5 years ago

Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far to this important topic. It makes me think this is something we should expand on at greater length in the print magazine. If anyone feels they would like to share their experience trying to care for elderly relatives with their work commitments, then do please get in touch with me and we could use this as part of a larger article.

amanda@mahlabmedia.com.au

More on HRM

Family leave: are you caught in a carer’s sandwich?


The benefits of paid parental leave are well known – for newborn babies and adults alike. A time for bonding, mothers are more likely to breastfeed for longer and also more likely to stay in the workforce if they are given enough time off to care for their babies.

However, it is usually just young mothers who benefit from parental leave (rather than family leave) the most.

But a new initiative from consultancy firm Deloitte in the US aims to make leave more inclusive and could set the template for leave in the future. The Deloitte policy offers leave not just to new parents but to any employee who has caring responsibilities.

At a time when people are living longer, many employees are finding that as their caring responsibilities for children lessen, so the caring demands for elderly relatives increase. They are caught in the middle of a caring sandwich.

At Deloitte, anyone in theory can take advantage of family leave to care for a baby, adopted child or a sick relative. What that does is level the playing field for men and women in the workplace, potentially making it more commonplace for men to spend time at home with their newborn child, for example. Or making it permissible for a senior executive to spend a month off with a sick parent.

The policy also means that leave isn’t something that only appeals to younger generations, and diffuses the resentment occasionally felt by older workers around young mothers taking longer periods of maternity leave. Universal family leave might also influence hiring managers when deciding who to recruit and who to advance.

Currently, in Australia, Deloitte offers 14 weeks paid parental leave and says there are no immediate plans to follow suit, although it will be reviewing the US policy around family leave.

guest
6 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Melissa Richardson
Melissa Richardson
5 years ago

This is a really important issue. Thank you for out for giving it visibility.

Tanya Heaney-Voogt
Tanya Heaney-Voogt
5 years ago

It is so refreshing to see this issue being raised in the AHRI media. I am definitely smack in the middle of a big fat carer sandwich and there are times I’ve rethought my career as I grapple to cope with these demands. A policy such as Deloitte’s would certainly ease some of that burden. It is a fact we are living longer and these demands will only increase. Holistically policies such as this could keep people out of aged care or hospital and therefore have a positive impact on the economy overall. Business size of course would be a… Read more »

Roxanne Elliott
Roxanne Elliott
5 years ago

Forward thinking employers are well aware of the benefit of working with employees to help them balance their responsibilities as a parent with their work commitments. This issue is addressed through various employee assistance programs which help employees source child care and working flexibly. What many employers overlook in their planning is the caring responsibilities faced by employees with older parents and the impacts this could have on business. Research has shown that services such as Deloitte USA deliver strong business benefits for a business at a relatively low cost. In fact, AARP reports that companies in the USA reap… Read more »

Tracey Browne
Tracey Browne
5 years ago

This is a very important issue, but I think it needs to go broader than the general concept of “caring”. Before my parents were in aged care, I though the responsibilities lessened once you “handed them over” to someone else. However, the reality was that visiting obligations became stronger as they got less able and going outside normal working hours was not always practical. The management staff at the facility generally work 9 to 5, Monday to Friday; and Mum and Dad were not at their best at the end of the day. So whilst I was not technically “caring”… Read more »

Amanda Woodard
Amanda Woodard
5 years ago

Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far to this important topic. It makes me think this is something we should expand on at greater length in the print magazine. If anyone feels they would like to share their experience trying to care for elderly relatives with their work commitments, then do please get in touch with me and we could use this as part of a larger article.

amanda@mahlabmedia.com.au

More on HRM