Caregiving in the Workplace: When To Tell Your Boss?

There are a lot of reasons why caregiving in the workplace is tricky. For one, many people who take on caregiver responsibilities at home may not want to tell their employer about it for fear that they will be seen as less committed to their job or unable to balance work and family life. And with the recent passage of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) legislation, more companies are offering unpaid leave time off for employees dealing with an immediate family member’s illness or injury.

Here are some things to consider before telling your boss you're looking after someone:

1. Do you have to tell your boss? The FMLA applies only if the person for whom you're caring is a relative or spouse who lives with you, and that person has a serious health condition.

2. Is this job likely to provide benefits for family caregiving? Companies often offer partial salary replacement during periods of unpaid leave when an employee is looking after their own immediate family member in need of home-based care - but not always. Ask your prospective employer about this before. 

3. What is the work from home policy. Often times doctor's appointments can be lumped into WFH tasks, but more frequent doctor's appointments would need to be communicated to ensure transparency.

Regardless of what you decide, it is probably better to error on the side of full disclosure, by being upfront now, rather than later. If the culture of the new job is not accommodating to your caregiving needs in the beginning, it is likely to not be accommodating after you've been there for some time.  


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