Are you caring for an aging or ill loved one while seeking a paid job? You’re not alone, and nonprofits are taking note.
Many nonprofits are accommodating employees’ needs to work part-time, freelance, or remotely. Large-scale, national nonprofits like American Red Cross, American Heart Association, and Teach for America are listed in the top 100 nonprofit companies for flexible jobs. Smaller and more localized nonprofits like Save the Bay also offer flexible work schedules, giving employees more control over their time.
As a working caregiver, you may struggle to divide your time and energy between your loved one, your own self-care, and your career. No matter what your situation, these tips may help you find an employer that will allow you to maintain a manageable and healthy work-life balance:
Seek out generous leave policies
Look into your prospective employers' paid and unpaid leave options. Some organizations may permit you to use vacation, personal days, or sick time for caregiving.
Donated leave programs can also be a great benefit for caregivers. There are even a few organizations that offer paid caregiving leave.
Look for flexible work schedules and locations
When considering a job, think about telecommuting options, offices you may be able to work from that are closer to the person you are caring for, or flexible hours.
Some nonprofits may allow you to start your workday later so you can help your loved ones in the morning, or start work earlier to take them to appointments in the afternoon. A compressed schedule may also be a good option.
With this kind of schedule you may be able to work four longer days and have the fifth day off (or nine longer days and the tenth day off). You can also ask your potential employer if you can reduce work time by sharing a job with another employee or by being hired specifically for part-time work.
Ask about additional benefits for caregivers
Some employers offer Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits for counseling, eldercare assessments, legal assistance, financial counseling, or help with insurance issues. A few organizations even help pay for backup eldercare if your caregiving plans fall through and you need to work.
Your potential employer may also offer benefits that help you take care of yourself, such as on-site support groups, concierge services (to help with running errands), and health and wellness programs or discounts.
To find out about these workplace options, first check the organization’s site. Network with friends and LinkedIn contacts to find a connection you might have with a current or past employee who you will speak with confidentially.
Check out online reviews on sites like www.Glassdoor.com, FairyGodBoss’s work-life balance guide, or www.Careerbliss.com. It may be difficult to find specific caregiving policies. It's also important to remember that posts on review sites should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Asking directly about work-life balance can be tricky and every situation is unique. The organization may be forthcoming about work location, schedules, and other policies in initial conversations. If not, you don’t want to give them any reason to believe you may not be interested in the job until you actually have an offer.
In general, it’s best to wait until you receive the offer and package—including benefits—before inquiring and negotiating leave and other working arrangements. If you are working with an external recruiter, it may be acceptable to ask them upfront.
It’s not uncommon for people to change jobs in order to better balance their work with their caregiving responsibilities. However, before making a major career change, be sure to evaluate the benefits, and review your caregiving and financial situation to plan wisely for your future.
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About the Author | Amy Goyer, author of Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving, is a writer, speaker, and consultant specializing in caregiving. She serves as AARP’s national Family and Caregiving Expert.