When you’re a caregiver also working a steady job, should you tell your employer?

Tuesday, 13 february 2024

34% of caregiver employees have told their boss about their personal situation and things are turning out well for 93% of them! BPCE’s economists explore the reasons why employees decide to tell their bosses… or not.

When trying to decide whether to tell or not to tell, one of the most decisive factors is the employees’ personal perception of the boundary between their private and professional lives. Some are keen to keep their private lives strictly to themselves, while others see no reason to lead a double life. This choice is eminently personal, and can evolve with changing circumstances. Not talking about your private life at work is a way of protecting yourself, of preserving a world in which you’re not defined as a ‘caregiver’; conversely, talking about your personal situation can be a way of seeking support, or even of getting a weight off your chest.

The second key factor is that of responding to imperatives: I tell my employer because I need to take a few days off work or ask to work part-time to look after my sick relative, to adapt my working hours to accompany him/her to medical appointments, or to have access to specific solutions. Conversely, those who decide not to talk about it feel that they can manage things by themselves, that there’s no need to involve their employer, or that there’s no point in doing so anyway because the employer can’t do anything to help. The approach adopted in this scenario is more pragmatic: the caregiver informs their employer if they feel that doing so would be useful.

The third factor is that of opportunity. For 16% of caregivers, the subject came up during an annual interview, and 12% brought it up because their employer offered support. Conversely, 16% of those who didn’t mention it to their employer said it simply hadn’t occurred to them!

Finally, fears about possible repercussions (losing one’s job, being stigmatized) carry little weight. This is a positive finding to the extent it reflects a fairly healthy employee/employer relationship, even if we are seeing the emergence of ways to improve the consideration of the personal situations of employee caregivers. One of the challenges is to create the right conditions for the subject to be discussed within the company while simultaneously respecting the choice of caregivers who prefer to protect their private lives. This calls for better communication, a trusting relationship with the manager and/or human resources, and even the setting up of dedicated systems.

Enabling people to speak freely seems to have positive outcomes. According to our survey, the simple fact of talking to your employer about your personal situation leads to a better balance between your professional life and life as a caregiver!
At a time when 15 million French people are caregivers, the research carried out by BPCE L’Observatoire ‘Caregivers and employers: their different perspectives’ focuses on caregivers who simultaneously hold down a steady job, and examines issues related to reconciling caregiving with a working life.

Read the complete study here.