Eldercare: What Became of the 'Employee Benefit of the '90S?'

By Marosy, John Paul | Aging Today, May/June 2003 | Go to article overview

Eldercare: What Became of the 'Employee Benefit of the '90S?'


Marosy, John Paul, Aging Today


Ten years ago, articles in the popular press and professional journals pointed to eldercare as a key factor for every employer interested in recruiting and retaining a productive workforce. Observers predicted that support for employees' eldercare needs would outpace the 1980s explosion of employer support for childcare benefits. Studies documented productivity losses related to eldercare. Model programs, like the intergenerational daycare center at Stride Rite Corporation, gained national attention. The oft-quoted demographic facts about the increasing the number of "very old" people and the decreasing proportion of working-age caregivers gave a sense of inevitability to employers making a bigger commitment to eldercare.

Yet, today the number of employers offering formal eldercare or work-balance benefits remains small. The most common benefit offered is resource and referral-that is, access to a counselor at a toll-free phone number or to a website providing information on services and care options. The proportion of large companies with eldercare benefits has increased from 13% to 30% over the past decade, but eldercare hasn't approached the 86% acceptance level of childcare as a component of these companies' benefits packages.

SMALL EMPLOYERS

Benefit trends among large employers tell part of the story. Only about 12% of workers in the United States are employed by large companies, those with 1,000 or more employees. Nearly half of the country's 108 million workers are employed by firms with 49 or fewer employees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today, the trend among smaller employers is to reduce, not expand, benefits. Small family businesses rarely offer eldercare services.

How many people actually use corporate eldercare benefits today? Assuming that 3% of the employees at large firms offering eldercare benefits actually use these benefits, then fewer than 100,000 Americans-a tiny portion of America's estimated 14 million employed caregivers-actually use company-sponsored eldercare. Comprehensive corporate eldercare programs, such as the one offered through AT&T's Work and Family Program, shine as beacons for others to replicate-but they remain the exception rather than the rule.

Despite slow expansion of eldercare in the 1990s, that decade did usher in important improvements for some employed caregivers. A few companies began to offer care management, a more personalized response to eldercare needs. Fannie Mae hired its own care managers. Several auto manufacturers entered into care management arrangements with vendors offering work-life services, thus fulfilling agreements signed with the United Auto Workers union.

Other progress came via legislation. In 1993, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act gave employees at companies with 50 or more workers the right to take unpaid leave without loss of their jobs or their benefits. In 2002, California enacted the nation's first comprehensive paid family leave law-funded entirely by employee contributions-and eslablished a new family temporary-disability insurance benefit to provide up to six weeks of wage replacement to workers who take time off work either to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent or domestic partner, or to bond with a new child. This law opened up meaningful new options for work-family balance to over 13 million employees.

VITAMINS VS. PAIN PILLS

The need to support those who must balance eldercare and work is stronger than ever. Every month, thousands more boomer-age employees feel squeezed between these responsibilities. Why, then, has the growth in eldercare benefits lagged?

Ageism is certainly a factor. American society has a cultural aversion to recognizing and and dealing with many facets of aging. The development of childcare benefits did not face this hurdle.

Some observers point to the gender gap. They argue that as long as family-friendly policies, such as eldercare, are regarded as a "women's issue," they will not receive serious attention from corporate executives, most of whom are men. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Eldercare: What Became of the 'Employee Benefit of the '90S?'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.