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This chapter discusses legislated carer leave policies and carer supports in Australia such as flexible working arrangements and carer payments. Carer leaves and requests for flexible work are very much dependent on the carer’s employment status in an increasingly precarious Australian labour market. The Australian system of paid personal/carer’s leave is quite flexible, allowing employees to use the leave for their own personal needs such as sickness or for their caring needs. The leave accrues progressively and accumulates for future caring needs. Part-time employees are entitled to the same number of ‘days’ leave, equivalent to the number of hours worked in a day. Recent research indicates increased employer acceptance of flexible work arrangements; however, employers can decline the request on reasonable business grounds. The uncertainty and potential inequity this right of refusal creates for carers are also explored in this chapter.

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In 2018, one in four Canadians of employment age reported that they had provided care to at least one family member or friend with a chronic health problem or disability in the previous year (roughly 5.2 million employed carers age 19 and 70). Responsibility for public support for Canada’s employed carers is shared among Canada’s ten provinces, three territories and federal government. As a result, the ‘system’ of supports is a bit of a patchwork quilt, with variations in provisions and eligibility criteria across jurisdictions. That said, all employed carers have access to some version of short- and longer-term leaves. Family Responsibility Leaves range from 3 to 12 days per year. Longer-term leaves (8–28 weeks) are available when providing compassionate (end-of-life) or critical illness (acute life-threatening) care. In addition to jurisdictional variations, longer-term leaves also vary by age of the recipient, with longer leaves granted to parents of critically ill children below age 18. The leaves cover the most dire care situations, are job protected, flexible and quite inclusive. Those taking longer leaves also are eligible for partial income replacement. But there is little for those providing care to someone with a chronic condition.

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Carer Leave and Related Employment Policies in International Context

Available Open Access digitally under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

The proportion of employees with caring responsibilities is growing and, as a result, policies that support working carers are becoming increasingly important.

Written and informed by national experts, this is the first publication to provide a detailed examination of the development and implementation of carer leave policies and policies in 9 countries across Asia, Oceania, Europe and North America.

It compares the origins, content and implications of national policies and practices intended to enable workers to provide care to family members and friends while remaining in paid employment – known as ‘carer leave’.

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This concluding chapter provides a summary and critical comparative analysis of the commonalities and differences in carer leave policies and related policy instruments, and their outcomes. It returns to the care and employment regime literatures, examining where we would expect to see similarities and differences in national approaches, according to their positioning within various regimes. The chapter includes a table which brings together the short- and long-term carer leaves across the nine nations to aid comparison, drawing together insights not only into the duration of the leave available, but also the level of compensation offered and the eligibility criteria. We close with a discussion of the capacity for findings to inform international policy transfer.

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This chapter addresses the current carer leave policies and employment policies in Finland. In 2022, Finnish social and health policies underwent several changes and reforms, all of which also have implications for working carers’ capacity to combine work and care. Analysis of the adequacy of carer leave policies shows that despite existing legislation, working arrangements, available care leaves and future reforms, Finnish working life has elements that make combining paid work and care responsibilities difficult, especially for women. Overall, the available forms of flexibility in work and the possibilities to take leaves in Finland are important and could be transferable to other countries. However, all available policies lean towards a familialistic approach. In Finland, the informal carer is usually a woman, making familialism a gender issue.

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This chapter outlines the relevance of long-term care in Germany in the context of its conservative or familialist welfare regime. Due to the increase in the employment rate of women, the challenges of reconciliation, especially of care and work, are continuously emerging, as the care of older people mainly takes place in the domestic environment. In order to improve reconciliation, the federal government has enacted various laws that aim to improve the compatibility of care and work. These are described, explained in terms of content and critically examined. In addition, current reform proposals are presented and discussed. The analysis shows the efforts of the federal government in trying to exert an influence on the reconciliation of care and work through legislation. However, they are not succeeding comprehensively, as there are many exceptions for employers and the laws do not apply to small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular. In addition, there is no corresponding lobby for family carers, which makes attempts to better reconcile care and work insufficiently visible in society. In conclusion, we argue that a mixed care arrangement of family and professional care would better enable compatibility of care and work.

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This chapter introduces the contents of the book, outlining the rationale for the focus on carer leave policies and associated supports, highlighting the increased prevalence of working carers globally. The chapter also explains the reasoning for the selection of the nine countries for comparison, drawing on the care and employment regime literatures and the various traditions of cross-national policy comparison. It also explores language, including the tensions around the use of ‘carers’, and whether ‘unpaid’ or ‘informal’ as descriptors bring with them additional challenges. The chapter closes with an overview of the book and each country-specific chapter.

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Japan is among the most aged societies in the world as a result of rapid population ageing after World War II. Japan also adopted an inherently familialist approach to welfare, with a high proportion of older people co-residing with their adult children. However, women’s increased labour force participation and increased unmarried male working carers have shifted caring within families to a more equitable sharing of tasks and care. However, it has been argued that both care leave and care services are insufficient and that, as such, few working carers take the long-term care leave, instead opting to take time off or change their working hours outside of statutory care leave policy. In this sense, Japanese welfare society is still familialist more broadly, even if defamilialisation of care has been partly realised in the care of older adults.

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In this chapter, we describe regulations to support family carers in providing care and participating in the labour market in Poland. Until recently, the situation of working carers (of older people who need care) has received little attention in Poland. The range and description of the main benefits presented in this chapter show that it is now gaining attention in both public discourse and policy making, including special financial benefits. The policy measures also address support for working carers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, we show that new regulations on work–life balance for parents and other carers may represent a shift in thinking about supporting carers of older people. The chapter concludes with thoughts and possible future scenarios in which care leaves and employment policies should intersect.

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This chapter provides an overview and evaluation of existing carer leave and related policies in Slovenia. The national background of economic, social, political and welfare policies is presented to contextualise the processes by which issues related to carers and caring are addressed, with additional reference to the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the care and well-being of older people. The analysis shows that Slovenia, contrary to its developments in childcare, does not have well developed carer leave policies for people supporting older people and, consequently, there is a lack of corresponding policy evaluation. Furthermore, research on carers and on the unmet needs of older people in need of care has highlighted that the familialist care regime in Slovenia faces several sustainability challenges, which need to be adequately and rapidly addressed by policy makers. The chapter concludes with recommendations for research and policy interventions.

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