EuroFound publishes Working Paper by WRC and empirica about Reconciliation of Work and Informal Care

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin, has published a report authored by WRC and empirica on the basis of a study on ‘Company initiatives for Workers with Care Responsibilities for Disabled Children or Adults’. The study, which was completed in autumn 2010, focused on employer activities to support the needs of workers who are engaged in family care, including parents caring for children with disabilities and informal carers of adults who need care because of disability, illness or old age. The report includes an overview of the context and field of practice in this area. It also presents some available evidence about existing company initiatives in the area, and discusses what needs to be done to make more progress in the near future.

Already, a sizeable proportion of the workforce (both men and women) must balance their paid employment with caring responsibilities, and vice versa, and this looks set to increase considerably over the coming years for a number of reasons including rising retirement ages, increased rates of female participation in paid work, and reliance of long-term care systems in Europe on the contribution of family carers. A multipronged approach is needed to address the challenges in this area, including: suitably organised community and homecare services to support dependent persons and their working carers; income support and other flexicurity measures; rights and regulations in the employment field; and practical measures that can be implemented by employers.

Company-level measures are the main topic of the study and of this report. Initiatives of relevance include both measures that aim to improve work-family balance in general as well as measures which are specifically oriented towards workers with care responsibilities for disabled children or adults. Examples of the former type include identification of carers as being eligible and efforts to encourage carers to avail of what is on offer for work-family needs in general. Examples of carer-specific schemes include: specific tailoring and provision of leave, part-time working, flexitime, teleworking and other family-friendly measures in a manner that addresses the particular needs of working carers (i.e. 'carer-friendly' measures), attention to the health and wellbeing needs of carers in occupational health services and programmes, care-related supports (information, counselling, referral, cost subsidy etc.), raising awareness of managers and co-workers, care audits, and so on.

The report is published to complement a series of detailed case studies of company-level initiatives in four countries: Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The case studies are to be made public shortly on the European Foundation's website.

Find the working paper here: