Over the years, American companies have incorporated a wide range of employee benefits, ranging from laundry facilities and gym discounts to paternity leave. While the economy has struggled and salaries have plateaued or decreased, practical “perks” have become increasingly valued at part of a company culture. As a reflection of today’s reality, the aging of America’s population and the strain on the working “sandwich generation,” more and more companies are now offering elder care benefits.

According to the 2014 National Study of Employers by Families and Work Institute, which was funded by the Society for Human Resource Management, employers are offering more overall options for elder care support than in the past. After surveying 1,051 for-profit and nonprofit employers regarding changes in the workplace since 2008, the report found:

41% of employers offer Dependent Care Assistance Plans for elder care, the option to set aside a set amount of funds from each paycheck before taxes to pay for elder care expenses, as opposed to 23% in 2008.
7% of employers offer access to respite care, defined as short-term care given to a family member by another caregiver so the primary caregiver can rest or take time off. Although still a relatively small percentage, it is up from the 3% of employers who offered the benefit in 2008.
64% of employers with 1,000 or more employees offer some type of elder care services, while 37% of employers with 50 to 99 employees provide similar benefits.
53% of employers with 1,000 or more employers offer Dependent Care Assistance Plans, while 38% of smaller companies do.

In addition to large companies offering better elder care services, many also offer Employee Assistance Programs and have more human resources staff or access to outside vendors to distribute such information to their employees. One notable omission in employee elder care benefits is that there was no significant increase in time off for elder care. However, in 2008 as well as in 2014, 75% of both large and small employers reported their employees were given time off to provide elder care without jeopardizing their jobs.

Related Work/Family Perks
Unfortunately, The National Study of Employers found a decrease in employers offering options for extended time away from work. For example, in 2008, 29% of employers offered job sharing but in 2014, only 18% of employers have this benefit. Also down, 64% of employers allowed career breaks for personal and family responsibilities in 2008, while only 52% of companies offer similar breaks in 2014. The good news is that employee flextime seems to be more popular, with telecommuting/working remotely increasing from 50% in 2008 to 67% in 2014.

If your employer does not offer elder care benefits and you would like them to, set up a meeting with your supervisor or human resources representative to identify the potential needs and discussion some options. If you of other employees with similar concerns, encourage them to also ask for elder care support and present your case as a workforce productivity and individual issue. For useful tips on identifying you needs and lobbying for workplace flexibility for elder care, the WhenWorkWorks.org Workflex Employee Toolkit on the site of the Families and Work Institute and Society for Human Resource Management can be a great resource.

If you need additional help determining what type of care is most suitable for yourself or your family member, please contact the knowledgeable staff at ElderLink to help you find elder care services or an assisted living facility within California that is customized for situation.