While the majority (84 per cent) of American employers say their workplace is friendly to caregivers, only 35 per cent offer employees paid leave specifically for caregiving responsibilities, according to a new survey by the Northeast Business Group on Health and the AARP.

However, many respondents do offer other forms of support for caregivers, including: employee assistance programs with services for caregivers (43 per cent); counselling, coaching or wellness programs aimed at caregivers (33 per cent); subsidized in-home backup care (31 per cent); access to free or low-cost resources to support caregivers; and employee caregiver resource groups (24 per cent).

Read: Microsoft to provide four weeks of leave under new caregiving benefit

“Caregiving as a benefits issue is on the radar of most employers, but there is wide variation in the support employers provide for employee caregivers,” said Laurel Pickering, president and chief executive officer of NEBGH, in a news release.

The survey also found 45 per cent of respondents rank caregiving as one of their top 10 priorities around employees’ health and well-being, but 50 per cent say employees aren’t aware of the caregiving benefits on offer.

The main barriers preventing U.S. workplaces from being caregiver friendly, according to the survey, are: a lack of employer benchmarks and best practices for caregiving; lack of financial resources; lack of data to identify caregivers; insufficient organizational capacity to support leave or flexible schedules; and a lack of engagement with caregiving support.

Read: Budget boosts parental leave to 18 months, introduces caregiving benefit

Employers cite an increase in productivity, a decrease in absenteeism and reduced health-care costs as the greatest drivers for offering caregiver-friendly benefits, program or resources to employees.

“Family caregiving is an issue that affects the vast majority of us. We are either caregivers now, have been in the past, will be in the future or will need care ourselves,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s chief advocacy and engagement.

“Of today’s 40 million family caregivers, 24 million are juggling caregiving responsibilities and employment. By recognizing and supporting their needs, employers can improve productivity and foster a stable and healthy workforce. It is great to see so many leading employers open to understanding this issue better, and we are pleased to be working together to help America’s family caregivers.”

Read: How to support working caregivers

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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