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Balancing work and caring for a loved one

On May 28, 2021

Balancing work and caregiving brings its share of daily challenges. How do you find or maintain an equilibrium? Here are a few ideas.

Balancing work and caregiving involves finding an equilibrium between the demands and responsibilities related to your professional, family and personal life, as well as the caregiver role. Harmonization between these different roles can become difficult, especially when an important change occurs. For example, changes may occur in terms of your health or that of the care receiver, an intensification of medical treatments or an accumulation of duties at work.

You may feel:

  • that you lack time;
  • guilty about having to choose between your loved one and your work;
  • lack of recognition;
  • that you always have to justify yourself to your employer;
  • that your requests are not legitimate;
  • that you have to hide your caregiver duties at your workplace;
  • that you are minimizing your involvement with your loved one;
  • highly emotionally charged.

What the law provides for caregivers

In Quebec, An Act Respecting Labour Standards protects workers covered under this legislation by allowing them, in certain circumstances, to take time off work due to the health of a loved one:

  • A salaried worker has the right to take off 10 days per year without pay. With the employer's approval, this extended leave can be divided into days or hours, which means that the 10 days do not have to be taken as a single block. An attestation completed by a health professional could be required.
  • The Act also provides two days of paid absence per year for a salaried employee with three months of continuous service.

A few ideas for balancing work and caring for a loved one:

  • Talk about your situation and follow up with your employer;
  • If your job allows, work from home (telework);
  • If offered by your employer, consult the Employee Assistance Program (EAP);
  • Make suggestions to your employer for facilitating balance;
  • Draw up a list of tasks to be done and organize your time using a calendar;
  • Raise the awareness of the care receiver and family and friends about the situation;
  • Delegate and share tasks with other family members and friends;
  • Use support services (e.g. meals on wheels, housekeeping assistance)
  • Consult a worker from a caregiver support organization to obtain advice.

Benefits for caregivers

Accessible through employment insurance, these benefits might help you if you have to take time off work to provide care or support to someone who is critically ill or injured or someone who needs end-of-life care.

As a caregiver, you don’t have to be related to or live with the person you care for or support, but they must consider you to be like family.

To find out more

Practical tools, references and resources