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Social policies such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Paid Leave (PL) proved its efficiency in support of the society members that need care for themselves or to their close ones. It helped women to gain an equal role in society and have a work-life balance. Maternity leave is the main way the FMLA is applied for most of the time. However, it also includes the cases when the family member needs assistance due to health concerns. Thus, FMLA and PL should integrate additional monthly payments for employees due to an increase of population among older adults.
Statement of the Problem
The main audience of the given policy memo is State Legislator due to their competence in the FMLA and PL issues. The main problem is that close relatives are the social capital that older people can rely on in difficult life situations and which helps solve important aspects of their current lives (Weber, Harrison, Steward, & Ludington-Hoe, 2018). The help of relatives becomes significant and indispensable for the elderly. For older people in need of medical care, including long-term medical supervision, assistance, and attention due to a chronic illness or disability. Rehabilitation treatment during rehabilitation, medical care for exacerbation of chronic diseases, malaise, colds, except medical workers, an important element of support, and care for patients are relatives or friends (Arellano, 2015).
Overview of the Problem
The lack of the option of the paid leave in most of the states of America is a significant issue that needs to be resolved in the context of the FMLA and PL. Only two locations today have such a policy that enables to get the paid leave in case of the disease of the close relative (Arellano, 2015). The fact that today, compared to past more women are employed makes a need for the introduction of the program that allows providing care for the elderly family members (Feinberg, 2018a).
High rates of population aging and an increase in the life expectancy of older people naturally stimulate growth in the need for expensive medical care and long-term care. In the composition of the total income of persons of retirement age, services provided an account for 45% (Weber et al., 2018). There is a wide variety of forms of service provision. With regard to long-term care services, there are various complexes of services at home, in medical geriatric clinics and in specialized homes for the elderly.
The number of hospitalizations and the length of stay in medical facilities is significantly reduced if an older person can receive a wide range of support at home. The infrastructure of inpatient support is very diverse because it includes traditional nursing homes, where the elderly are constantly looked after (Arellano, 2015). However, there are also apartment-type homes in which older age groups support an independent lifestyle, but if necessary, they have the opportunity to seek medical and household services. Inadequate funding of long-term medical and household services for older age groups can have a devastating effect on the financial situation of older adults, especially women (Weber et al., 2018). They are much more likely to be at risk of poverty due to lower pensions, including due to interruptions in employment, and length of life.
The primary stakeholders can be classified as caregivers and employers, who provide social and medical insurance for their workers. In addition, it is important to involve specialized government agencies, who specialize in FMLA and PL (Weber et al., 2018). The recommendation is derived from the healthcare systems of other European countries. These suggestions can be partially or fully integrated into the current medical sector. Often, the organization of home care for sick relatives can be resolved using special unpaid leave for care. Such kind of long vacations are valid, for example, in Belgium, France, Spain, Denmark but in many cases this vacation is not legally required, and the employer may refuse to grant it. In addition, long holidays are not paid (Arellano, 2015). In Germany and Austria, the duration of care leave can be no more than six months, in the UK and the Netherlands up to three months. Cases of payment of long vacation by the employer are quite rare. In Japan, parental leave of up to 98 days is paid at a rate of 40% of the employee’s salary (Arellano, 2015). In Denmark, in the event of an employer refusing to pay the employee a relative care allowance, local authorities can cover up to 82% of the estimated amount of this allowance (Weber et al., 2018).
The given recommendation addresses the limitations of the US healthcare system, which is the lack of FMLA and PL targeted at older adults. In the Scandinavian countries, such as Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, benefits for caring family members are considered as payment for their labor. Municipal structures responsible for organizing long-term services for needy citizens hire relatives for these purposes. In Finland, this payment varies in different regions but is no less than the official minimum wage. In other countries of Northern Europe, the corresponding fees are equivalent to the hourly wages of ordinary household assistants, but they also mainly fluctuate around the minimum wage. In Anglo-Saxon countries, such as Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, caregivers are assigned benefits after a need assessment and are considered as compensation for lost earnings (Weber et al., 2018). In addition, the recipient of services can also be granted benefits or disability pensions.
The medical care allowance for a helping family member, assigned after a need assessment, is usually provided only to those who are exclusively concerned with the care, and the criteria for paying it are quite strict. Therefore, for example, in the UK adult relatives take care of it no more than 10%, and the payment itself is accompanied by the development of a support plan (Feinberg, 2018b). It includes a method for vocational training and retraining of the recipient, developed by local social services. In France and the Netherlands, there are formal hiring programs for relatives to care for needy family members, except for spouses in France. In these cases, specialists determine the necessary volume of services, and their financing is provided at the expense of cash benefits provided to the needy (Arellano, 2015). Thus, to describe the relationship between family and state participation in elderly care, the “complementary model” is most appropriate. According to it, the state resorted to assistance mainly when the needs of an older person exceed the ability of the family to provide support. Therefore, the active participation of the family in caring for elderly relatives allows the state to save on costs.
In conclusion, the formation of the caregiver-friendly workplace in the US could positively affect workforce productivity and overall satisfaction with the job. In the future, the financial cost of long-term services will increase. Economically developed countries have developed and apply extremely diverse models for organizing and financing such services. There are universal programs in ten countries of this group, where the package of services includes both medical care and household services. At the other end of the spectrum, state assistance is provided only to those who do not have their sources to finance payment for services or have completely exhausted them. In addition, there are various mixed programs.
Arellano, J. (2015). Don’t leave U.S. behind: Problems with the existing Family and Medical Leave Act, and alternatives to help enhance the employee work-family relationship in the 21st Century. SAGE Open, 1(2), 2-19.
Feinberg, L. F. (2018a). Breaking new ground: Supporting employed family caregivers with workplace leave policies. AARP Public Policy Institute, 136(1), 1-28.
Feinberg, L. F. (2018b). Paid family leave policies are not just for new parents [Blog post]. Web.
Weber, A., Harrison, T. M., Steward, D., & Ludington-Hoe, S. (2018). Paid Family Leave to enhance the health outcomes of preterm infants. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, 19(2), 11–28.