A generous salary is no longer the main draw in employee retention. As responsibilities of employees diversify and evolve, employers are devising unique and attractive benefits to recruit and retain them.
The government has also stepped in to help working professionals strike a better balance between work and personal commitments, such as offering flexible work arrangements. As Singapore’s population ages, working professionals, especially those of the middle-aged range grapple with providing care to their elderly parents while at their jobs.
Therefore, it is high time that employers consider offering employee benefits that ease the responsibilities of caregivers. Here’s how we think employers can make a difference.
1.Protection during work
Agencies that provide home care services are on the rising trend. Some agencies recruit foreign caregivers to live at the client’s residence and provide care. There are also agencies that hire freelance caregivers who provide care in ad-hoc sessions. Regardless how the business works, it is important that agencies consider the possibility of accidents and disputes which may arise when the caregiver is working and provide the necessary protection.
Take for instance CaregiverAsia, which offers professional indemnity insurance that protects caregivers from legal liability and costs arising from claims made for medical malpractice. In addition, CaregiverAsia has an upcoming insurance plan that provides hospitalization cash benefits for accidents that occur during work.
2.Paid eldercare leave
The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) recently conducted a series of interviews on 22 family caregivers and 22 care sector stakeholders who are mostly middle-aged unmarried women. These respondents reduced their working hours or even left the workforce in order to care for their elderly parents.
Although the Ministry of Manpower has implemented “family-friendly” types of leave like shared parental or childcare leave for local citizens and PRs, leave that tends to the needs of elderly care recipients are left out of the equation. Should elderly parents require their children’s company for medical consultations or assistance in their rehabilitation, their children may struggle to find time off from work to do so. AWARE’s head of research and advocacy, Shailey Hingorani feels that the government should work to provide these individuals with six days of paid eldercare leave, so that they can execute their care plans with a peace of mind.
3.Monetary benefits for primary caregivers
Many respondents of the study also felt unconfident in returning to the workforce due to age discrimination and family commitments. When the caregivers are not in the workforce, their own retirement nest eggs are also affected due to lack of income and CPF contributions. To counteract this problem, AWARE encourages the government to offer these individuals a caregiver support grant that comprises cash and CPF contributions. The CPF contribution rate can be comparable to current employer contribution rates and capped when the Basic Retirement Sum is reached.
Employers should also look into offering benefits for dependents of employees, such as complimentary health screening, partial coverage for medical procedures and corporate rates for home care services. If employees pay less out of their pockets for their dependents’ medical expenses, they would have more to save for their own retirements and thus feel less worried.
In the same vein, CaregiverAsia is working with organizations to offer corporate rates for home care services. In our latest partnership with Seagate, we provide exclusive rates to Seagate’s employees who engage home care services with us. We hope to forge more partnerships to achieve our goal of providing accessible home care services at affordable rates.
4.Training and counselling
Caregiver burnout can occur to both family caregivers and professional caregivers. As such, professional support is essential to avoid burnout. CaregiverAsia works with the Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors Singapore (APACS) to offer complimentary talks and group counselling sessions to freelance caregivers every month. A different topic is covered every month to ensure a wide variety of topics for all caregivers.
In addition, CaregiverAsia conducts talks and training to educate caregivers on up-to-date knowledge and skills in caregiving. These include caregiver training courses that are accredited by the Agency for Integrated Care, as well as one-hour sharing sessions that allow busy professionals to acquire knowledge on trending health issues. Employers may consider working with training providers to conduct talks and training at the office, so that employees can gain the necessary caregiving knowledge without taking time off from work.
Summing things up
Employee benefits for caregivers, both monetary and non-monetary are useful in helping them maintain their productivity at work. Increased productivity translates to greater returns for employers and better growth for the economy. The government and employers can work hand in hand to identify the needs of caregivers and offer benefits that can be well utilized.
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