A recent report on the results of the National Survey on Balancing Work, Family and Caregiving shows the impact of caregiving stress on workers. Over 3300 employed Canadians participated in the survey, which was conducted in 2015-16. PSAC promoted the survey on its website and many PSAC members participated.
Caregiving responsibilities can be overwhelming
The survey centered on the experiences of people who are in paid employment and have eldercare and/or childcare responsibilities.
The study found:
- Parents and caregivers are overloaded with demands imposed by work, family and caregiving
- Respondents spend long hours at work and many take work home in the evening
- Respondents on average spend nearly 23 hours per week caring for dependents
- Many respondents report high levels of stress (70%) and depressed mood (50%)
- There was also an impact on their physical health
Impacts on work
The survey shows that the caregiving responsibilities of those surveyed had a large impact on their working lives. For example:
- Almost one in four reported thinking about leaving their current job once a week or more
- Eldercare was associated with higher levels of absenteeism from work
It is clear from this study that work-life conflict can have a number of negative consequences for employers, such as reduced productivity, higher absenteeism, and reduced work hours. This means, policies and benefits that support caregivers are in the best interest of both employees and employers.
Workers need flexibility
The respondents were asked what kinds of benefits and policies at work they find helpful.
The results show that the most effective workplace policies and benefits are:
- Family-friendly benefits, such as flexible work hours, paid short-term personal leave, and time off in lieu of overtime pay
- Formal organizational policies that address issues associated with caregiving
- Eldercare referral services
Flexible work arrangements were the most valued benefit: many respondents reported that flexible work arrangements helped them cope a lot.
PSAC continues to make this issue a priority in bargaining and these study results will help support our case for more family-friendly and flexible provisions in collective agreements. We are also continuing our campaign for affordable, accessible, and adequately resourced child care program, which will mean more reliable child care options for working parents.
The National Survey on Balancing Work, Family and Caregiving was undertaken by Dr. Linda Duxbury on behalf of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA). Dr. Duxbury, a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa, is a Canadian expert in the field of work-life balance.
This was a nation-wide survey of employed caregivers. The goal of the study was to increase awareness of the challenges faced by those who combine work and caregiving, and make a business case for change. This information will help PSAC as we advocate for these issues.