Monday, 20th January 2014 at 9:37 am
The number of older Australians balancing work and unpaid caring is growing and forcing more people to remain in the workforce for longer, a recent report has found.
The report, called A Juggling Act: Older Carers and Paid Work in Australia, by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre used data from the 2011-12 Barriers to Employment for Mature Age Australians Survey, which involved 3,007 respondents aged between 45 and 74 years.
According to the study, nearly three in every 10 Australians aged 45–74 years (28 per cent) were providing care for someone.
“Of these carers, one in six (17 per cent) was caring for a child and just over one in ten (11 per cent) for an adult,” the study said.
“Over half (55 per cent) were providing care for 20 or more hours per week.
“Nearly one in three carers (31 per cent) had an illness, injury or disability themselves, and nearly half (49 per cent) were caring for someone with a long-term illness or disability.
“Women and carers with an illness, injury or disability themselves were most likely to be caring for someone with a long-term illness or disability.”
The study also show that more than half of the people who were caring for an adult (51 per cent) and nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of those caring for children were also in paid employment, either full-time or part-time.
“More than one in three carers (36 per cent) who were not in work at all reported that caring prevented from them working,” it said.
“This included nearly half of those who were caring for an adult, and these carers were also more likely to have a lower level of education, and be caring for someone with a long-term illness or disability.
“Almost one in three carers (31 per cent) who were working part-time reported that caring prevented them from working more hours. Women were much more likely than men to report that care-giving limited their ability to work.”
The report also found that carers face many issues and barriers in the workplace or when looking for work.
The issues and barriers included:
- Exclusion: While similar proportions of carers and non-carers reported some form of exclusion in the workplace or while looking for work, this was most likely among carers who had an illness, injury or disability. Most commonly, carers reported insulting jokes or comments, being paid less than other workers in similar roles, and feeling they were being forced out;
- Superannuation: Three in every five (60 per cent) of the carers whose care-giving limited their ability to work said that this had also limited their ability to accumulate superannuation;
- Training and skill development: More than two in every five carers (42 per cent) said that they wanted to attend work-related training but could not.
The report recommended two options to help carers to work or work more, which were flexible work arrangements and external care.
“Caring responsibilities limit the ability of many older people to work, and carers can face many challenges both in the workplace and in finding work,” it said.
“The effect of the recent legislative changes regarding flexible work arrangements will, therefore, be of much interest.
“As the Australian population ages, the challenges of balancing paid work and unpaid caring will continue to increase, and in coming years care for the elderly could become a greater issue than childcare for both workers and employers.”
To read the full report, click here.