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Family friendly policies: accommodating end‐of‐life caregivers in workplaces

Mirjana Vuksan (School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)
Allison Williams (School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)
Valorie Crooks (Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 23 March 2012




Family friendly workplace policies (FFWPs) are designed to help employees co‐manage work and personal obligations. With the rising aging population and subsequent emphasis on informal caregiving in Canada, Canadian employees will have to maintain paid work while serving as caregivers for family members at end‐of‐life (EoL). Thus, workplaces need to be prepared to accommodate these workers' requests. The objective of this paper is to explore, qualitatively, the workplace and employee characteristics that are most helpful to employees in EoL caregiving situations from an employer/human resources (HR) perspective so as to inform the development of FFWPs targeting this group.


The authors draw on the findings of five focus group discussions undertaken in 2008 with Canadian employers and HR professionals in the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.


There are clear differences in how large and small workplaces accommodate employees who are providing EoL care. For instance, larger workplaces are more likely to have set policies around employee EoL care leaves and are unable to accommodate employees' needs that fall outside the scope of these policies; smaller workplaces are less likely to have standard policies for caregiver leaves and are more able to customize responses to leave requests. Employee characteristics such as length of time working for the employer and employee skill level also have a bearing on accommodating employee EoL care leave requests. The presence of HR infrastructure, which is more characteristically found in large workplaces, is also related to the availability of formal FFWPs.

Research limitations/implications

The fact that the data were derived from the employer/HR perspective and not those of actual employees is a limitation. The small sample size and convenience (non‐random) sampling limits the generalizability of the findings.


This research contributes to the limited literature on FFWPs and EoL caregiving accommodations. The findings of this study can directly inform workplace practice, both now and in the years to come, regarding how best to support workers who are also providing informal EoL care to family, friends, and others.



Vuksan, M., Williams, A. and Crooks, V. (2012), "Family friendly policies: accommodating end‐of‐life caregivers in workplaces", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 4-14.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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