Q: My elderly father is in poor health and has recently come to live with us. We are empty nesters and both still work full time.
Even though we’ve hired someone to come two hours a day to check on him, at work I’m always either stressed out with worry or at least preoccupied with his wellbeing. So, my productivity is suffering a bit but I’ve managed to cover it by postponing deadlines and delegating work. I know eventually I’ll have to let them know but what’s the way to do that without seeming less able to do my job?
A: First, I’m sorry about your father’s health. But I am glad that you have the desire and the means to have him stay with you. As you know, you are not alone and have now joined the growing number of boomers caring for their parents.
Naturally caring for your Dad will affect your job. But as an employer the way I’d see this is that’s it’s similar to other major life events that any employee may encounter. Let’s say when an employee has a new baby, for example. Whether for the Dad or Mom, that’s a huge change in “worry and preoccupation” and sleepless nights. Or, how about getting a divorce and becoming a single parent all of a sudden. Those are life events that we know will impact performance. Yes, there will be a time of adjustment. Perhaps the employee will miss more work than normal, or be late more often, or need a flexible schedule. Or may not be able to accept projects needing travel, or overtime. but good employers understand this is usually temporary.
You’re right, you need to let your employer know, and you should overcome your reluctance soon. Just like employees who have babies don’t hesitate to notify their employer, neither should you.
Lastly, if you work for a company with more than 50 employees and have worked there over a year, you are likely covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows you to take time off from work to care for a “spouse, parent or child” and keeps your job safe. Many people know the act covers babies and spouses but we sometimes forget parents are included as well.
Let your employer know about your situation, practice self-care, and read up on FMLA in case you need it later.
Originally published on HR Box blog.