PFL in Person: Caring for an Ill Family Member
August 15, 2017
It’s a reality grown children often face — a time when their parents, stepparents, or caregivers reach a point when they need care themselves. Not always something we plan for, it can be hard to know when, or how much, time we’ll need when it happens. It’s natural to jump at the chance to be there for loved ones who have provided so much support and love to us, regardless of our work situations.
Many people don’t consider having options for time off, especially from a family leave perspective since it’s most often thought of with new babies — but that’s just what Paid Family Leave does. Not only does PFL support expecting mothers, it includes the care of ill family members as a qualifying event for benefits. So, if you have the challenge of caring for aging parents or loved ones ahead of you, PFL can be there to expand your support system.
As part of our “PFL in Person” series, we talked with Oscar about how he manages this very situation — the heavy demands of work-life balance and attentive parent care.
Balancing Full-Time Work and Being There for Our Parents
Living and working in New York with 75- and 82-year-old parents, Oscar is no stranger to the worry that comes with maintaining his career while taking mom or dad to doctor appointments and checking in on them regularly. Like many in his demographic, Oscar’s parents are entering a stage of life where their care can conflict with traditional 9-5 work, and his ability to manage the responsibilities of both.
Sometimes work is cool about it, other times, not so much.
A project manager for a security company, Oscar’s job has only been getting busier at a time when his parents require more and more attention. From big, scheduled things like doctor appointments to finer points like making sure his elderly dad isn’t mowing the grass in the heat of the day, there’s almost always something on his mind. His mother recently had cataract surgery, which came with a three-day recovery period. During this time, she was unable to care for herself or her husband. It’s time Oscar knows he needs — and wants — to spend with her, but asking for the time off can still feel like a delicate balancing act that he’s not always on the right end of.
If I don’t go to her surgery, I’m going to feel like garbage.
Right now he’s making it work, drawing from his pool of five weeks of vacation, but using that time for things that aren’t spent resting and recharging himself can cause friction and ultimately drain a well that’s not being refilled.
It’s easier now for Oscar to envision a scenario when he might have to make the hard choice between using vacation for himself, and using it to care for mom or dad, or finding alternative care options. There might be a time when those five weeks won’t be enough to provide the level of care and attention his parents need, and that worry is always on his mind.
Even now, it’s tough to keep a very close eye on them.
PFL for Parent Care
When PFL launches next year, Oscar will have more options — something he was pretty excited to hear, especially since his company only offers accrued vacation and federal holidays for time off. Not only will he have access to more time, he’ll be able to earn part of his income while he takes that time. So, if one or both of his parents need a significant amount of recovery after a surgery or procedure, he can use PFL to earn part of his salary and not worry about compromising his job position.
It’s a step that goes a long way to provide more resources and support for himself when it’s time to put his family first. And it’s not just the time or the money, it’s the emotional uplift that can come from having his employer, and his community, in his corner at a time when things feel fragile, emotional, and stressful. PFL can ease his mind to do the most important work – being there when his parents need him most.
How Does PFL Work For Providing Care?
Starting as soon as January 1st of 2018, Oscar can use PFL to take up to 8 weeks of time off to care for his mother or father, earning 50% of his Average Weekly Wage (AWW) capped at 50% of New York State’s Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW) for a maximum of $653 per week. Each year after 2018, the benefit amount increases to a cap of up to 67% of Oscar’s weekly wage up to 67% of NYSAWW for 12 weeks in 2021 when PFL is fully rolled out. And it’s not just the monetary benefit that can help Oscar, he’ll also:
- Feel more secure while on leave knowing his job is protected
- Keep his own health care benefits as though he were still on the job
- Have the ability to keep his earned vacation days if he chooses
Find more information about PFL in New York, like coverage and eligibility details to care for a seriously-ill family member, or send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This material is not intended to provide legal counsel. Please consult with an appropriate professional for legal and compliance advice.