A Method for Assessing the Extent of Family Caregivers in the Workplace and their Financial
by David J Levy, JD CCE
reprinted with permission
One of the great social enigmas of the past 10-15 year has been the recognition that tens of
millions of working Americans are family caregivers however, there has been no way to effectively
identify their true number in the workplace.
This failure to self-identify and the desire to remain “invisible” is the need to protect their
jobs, retirement and essential well-being due to their fear that asking for help will typecast them
as a worker who doesn’t give the company 100%.
Family caregivers are showing up for work, “perfect attendance”, but they are dealing with their
family caregiver/health issues on the employer’s time - presenteeism.
While absenteeism can show much of the direct costs of caregiving (sick time, time off, reduced
work hours, early retirement), presenteeism shows the indirect costs and they are a multiple of
absenteeism costs totaling in the $100’s of billions.
The overall stress of family caregiving causes a unique cluster of five symptoms and illnesses.
Those top five illnesses match the top five found in workers participating in the American
Productivity Audit - a major, ongoing investigation of productivity and presenteeism in the
This correlation by illness allows a better ability to identify and assess the true extent of
family caregivers in the workplace.
Due to the enormous financial impact caregiver presenteeism places on the bottom line, this is an
issue that needs recognition at every level of corporate management.
To stem workplace presenteeism, the corporate culture and existing eldercare programs must be
critically reevaluated and replaced with a more caregiver tolerant corporate mind set and
supportive programs that are meaningful and effective.