First-ever comprehensive look at the state of caregiving in N.C. and recommendations for supporting working families who provide care
RALEIGH (Dec. 13, 2011) – Today’s workplace policies were created for a labor force that does not exist, a report released today by experts with the North Carolina Justice Center finds, and increasingly, parents and caregivers are some of the state’s most vulnerable workers.
It is essential to the health of the state’s families, workforce, and businesses to explore policy solutions that address the needs of caregivers who no longer can rely on a homemaker to take care of family and care responsibilities while working, the report finds.
“We examined the data about caregivers and working families in North Carolina—who they are, who they care for, how they’re faring if they’re working, and what the consequences are for families, public health, and businesses,” said Sabine Schoenbach, the report’s lead author and policy analyst with the NC Justice Center. “Our findings are troublesome: there are a vast number of North Carolinians juggling work and care responsibilities without any supports in the workplace. They can’t necessarily access paid sick time if their child is sick and they can’t stay home with a newborn child without risking their job."
Among the findings in the report:
- The majority of the 1.2 million caregivers providing care for an adult family member, partner, or friend suffering from chronic illness are doing so while working at a paying job.
- 900,000 households in the state include one or more persons over the age of 65 – by 2030, this population will have grown by 80 percent. The aging Baby Boomers will increasingly require more care and the number of caregivers will only continue to grow.
- Nearly three-quarters of families in NC with children ages 6-17 have all parents in the work force.
- Nearly half of all North Carolina private-sector workers lack a single paid sick day to care for themselves or a sick family member.
- Only 11 percent of private-sector workers in the South Atlantic region have access to paid family and medical leave.
- The recession has increased the need for workplace policies that promote family economic security.
- Work-family policies increase employee productivity and reduce turnover, and thus costs, for businesses.
The report outlines several ways that policymakers could start valuing families through a comprehensive work-family policy agenda, including guaranteeing all North Carolina workers a minimum number of paid sick days, exploring a state-based family leave insurance program to ensure medical leave for families, fostering flexible workplace schedules, and addressing Family Responsibilities Discrimination.
"North Carolina's working families desperately need action to ensure that they don't risk a job to care for a sick family member," said Beth Messersmith, campaign director for NC MomsRising. "On behalf of the 28,000 moms we represent, we applaud the release of this critical report that lays out a blueprint for making North Carolina's workplaces and families healthier."
The lack of family-friendly workplace policies in North Carolina has become even more exigent for workers in today’s lagging economy.
“Economic recovery is not just about job creation, it’s about job retention too,” concluded Louisa Warren, a policy advocate with the NC Justice Center. “The 9 out of 10 workers who still have jobs are desperate to keep them, even if it means going to work sick and infecting their co-workers. Now is the time for our policymakers to start valuing our working families.”
For more info on these issues and the NC Families Care Campaign visit www.ncfamiliescare.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sabine Schoenbach, Policy Analyst, 919.856.2234, firstname.lastname@example.org; Louisa Warren, Policy Advocate, 919.856.2183, Louisa@ncjustice.org; Julia Hawes, Communications Specialist, 919.863.2406, Julia@ncjustice.org.