How can caregiving affect my work?
How can I deal with working and caregiving?
What is the Family Leave Medical Act (FLMA)?


How can caregiving affect my work?

Many people find it hard to balance work and caregiving. Medical appointments and other tasks can interrupt your work day. You may be sleeping poorly or distracted by feelings of anger, depression, or anxiety. You may find yourself working few hours or not as well.

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How can I deal with working and caregiving?

Here are some suggestions:

  • When possible, try to schedule the patient’s medical appointments and other caregiving jobs during breaks or lunchtime.
  • Ask your supervisor about your company’s policy regarding caregivers. Find out if your employer allows flex-time and/or alternative work schedules.
  • Offer to work an unpopular shift in exchange for flex-time.
  • Many large employers have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Ask your boss what support services are available. If your company doesn't have an EAP, talk with the human resources (HR) department.
  • It is usually more trouble for your employer to replace you than help you make it work. If you are thinking of quitting, talk with your boss first. He or she may be more willing to help than you think.
  • If you work for a company with more than 50 employees, ask for information on the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Consider your job as an opportunity to take a short break from caregiving. A recent study showed that working family caregivers do better than non-working caregivers.

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What is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The FMLA gives you the right to take time off work without losing your job if you are ill or caring for an ill family member.


  • Applies to workers at all government agencies and schools nationwide, as well as private companies with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the work site.
  • Guarantees that eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which can be used all at once or in increments as short as a few hours at a time (in the event an employee wants to work part-time or needs time off for appointments).
  • Guarantees that eligible employees maintain their health insurance benefits while out on leave.
  • Guarantees that an employee who returns to work will be given his or her previous position or an equivalent job with the same salary, benefits and other conditions of employment.
  • Covers employees who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, including at least 1,250 hours during the most recent 12 months.

For more information: FMLA web page (U.S. Department of Labor)

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Next learn about...

Making a caregiving plan

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This website was created to provide information, education, and support that will help cancer caregivers care for themselves and their family members. It is not meant as medical advice. Please check with your physician for any advice about your health.