Support for Caregiving
Caregiving - providing care for children and/or dependent adults - is one of the greatest joys and challenges of adult life. Employed caregivers can face difficult choices as they try to meet the sometimes competing demands of personal and professional life. Workplace support can not only have a tremendous impact on the work/life and well being of caregivers, it can also help employers to recruit and retain the best possible workforce, and ensure that employees are productive in their work.
The Federal Government provides a great deal of support for caregiving employees. Specific Federal laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and various leave programs specific to the Federal workforce (see below), enhance the ability of employees to give care to family members. Additionally, all Federal agencies have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which offer counseling and referral for managing stress and other mental health issues related to caregiving. Some agencies also provide resource and referral programs, which can link employees to community resources for child and elder care. To find an EAP and/or Work/Life contact in your agency, visit the OPM Work/Life website and search the contacts database.
Although Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statutes do not prohibit employment discrimination based solely on parental or other caregiver status, there may be circumstances under which discrimination against a working parent or other caregiver constitutes unlawful disparate treatment under Federal EEO statutes. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued the following guidance addressing these issues:
Federal employees, former Federal employees and applicants for Federal employment who believe they have been subjected to illegal discrimination or prohibited personnel practices, should promptly contact the relevant office(s) within their agencies. In addition,
- For an EEO claim, see 29 CFR § 1614.105(a) and Federal EEO Complaint Processing Procedures
- For a Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) appeal, see 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) and Processing Appeals
- For an Office of Special Counsel complaint, see Prohibited Personnel Practices