Skip to main content

What Helps Working Informal Caregivers? The Role of Workplace Characteristics in Balancing Work and Adult-Care Responsibilities

Abstract

Population ageing and expected labour shortages mean that successful reconciliation of adult care and paid work is becoming a key issue for employers, employees and frail older people alike. Based on the detailed workplace-related variables in the fourth European Working Condition Survey, we examined differences in levels and determinants of carers’ and non-carers’ role conflict and one of its outcomes, absenteeism. We found caregivers to exhibit higher levels of perceived work–family conflict. Work schedules and time regimes affect carers’ and non-carers’ work–family conflict alike. However, good friends at work and work overload have a larger impact on carers’ work–family conflict. Furthermore, we found indications for a trade-off between perceived work-to-family conflict and absenteeism via workplace policies.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Graph 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    By workplace policies we do not mean referral services for caregivers to dependent adults or daycare centers, because information on the availability of these services is not included in the dataset. Instead we focused on work time arrangements and flexibility.

  2. 2.

    The number of missing values per variable ranges from about 0.02–0.4 %.

  3. 3.

    This does not elicit whether a large enough quantity of time could be allocated to family commitments, but whether working hours fit in with those commitments. While concerning childcare commitments the objective may be to spend at least a certain amount of time with the family, time-related concerns in adult care scenarios are often of a different nature and flexibility is of more importance (Smith 2004, p. 369). The wording of the question in the EWCS is highly appropriate for analysis of time-related issues in adult care.

  4. 4.

    Exact wording: “In your main paid job, over the past 12 months, have you been absent for any of the following reasons?” Possible answers were: “Maternity or paternity leave,” “Educational leave,” “Family-related leave,” “Health problems” and “Other reasons” (Parent-Thirion et al. 2007, p. 126, emph. added). An analysis of the number of sick leave days produced too unsound results and is thus not discussed in this paper.

  5. 5.

    Health-related absences were included since it might be the case that respondents attributed care-related absences to health reasons if they could not get time off and resorted to feigning ill. Furthermore, caregiving has been found to have a significant impact on caregiver’s health status (Beach et al. 2000; Burton et al. 2004).

  6. 6.

    Data on the ISCED level of education and income decile of respondents were considered as additional controls. Income and education have been shown to influence work–family conflict. This is because low-income and low-education jobs may offer less work time flexibility and other family-friendly benefits than low-income jobs (Weigt and Solomon 2008). Then again, high-income or high-education jobs might require more involvement in work in general (Schieman et al. 2006). However, we did not control for education because EWCS data allow direct control for (informal) work time flexibility, support at workplace and work overload via its detailed work-related variables. A direct effect of income on work–life conflict might exist if a larger income allowed for purchase of care services (Weigt and Solomon 2008), but no significant effect could be found. Furthermore, if income or education were included as controls in the analysis of absenteeism, endogeneity issues would arise, since absenteeism-prone workers could end up in worse paid jobs or decide to invest less in their education (Allen 1981).

  7. 7.

    Introduction of NACE classification of economic sector has been considered, but has turned out not to have any significant effect. Further clustering countries by welfare state regimes (Esping-Andersen 1990) or care regimes (Bettio and Plantenga 2004) has not improved the fit of the model. Country effects do not significantly correlate within such care regimes. Considering that adult care often does not mirror childcare policies, a classification of family care regimes might be necessary (Frericks and Pfau-Effinger 2011). Furthermore, as the country effects incorporate a number of factors not attributable to the welfare or care regime, their direct interpretation is even more problematic.

References

  1. Allen, S. G. (1981). An empirical model of work attendance. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 63(1), 77–87. doi:10.2307/1924220.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson, S. E., Coffey, B. S., & Byerly, R. T. (2002). Formal organizational initiatives and informal workplace practices: Links to work–family conflict and job-related outcomes. Journal of Management, 28(6), 787–810. doi:10.1177/014920630202800605.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Arksey, H. (2002). Combining informal care and work: Supporting carers in the workplace. Health and Social Care in the Community, 10(3), 151–161. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2524.2002.00353.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Arksey, H., & Glendinning, C. (2008). Combining work and care: Carers’ decision-making in the context of competing policy pressures. Social Policy & Administration, 42(1), 1–18. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9515.2007.00587.x.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Barling, J., MacEwen, K. E., Kelloway, K., & Higginbottom, S. F. (1994). Predictors and outcomes of elder-care-based interrole conflict. Psychology and Aging, 9(3), 391–397. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.9.3.391.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Barmby, T. A. (2002). Worker absenteeism: A discrete hazard model with bivariate heterogeneity. Labour Economics, 9, 469–476. doi:10.1016/S0927-5371(02)00042-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Barmby, T. A., Orme, C. D., & Treble, J. G. (1991). Worker absenteeism: An analysis using microdata. The Economic Journal, 101(405), 219–229. doi:10.2307/2233813.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Beach, S. R., Schulz, R., & Yee, J. L. (2000). Negative and positive health effects of caring for a disabled spouse: Longitudinal findings from the caregiver health effects study. Psychology and Aging, 15(2), 259–271. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.15.2.259.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bettio, F., & Plantenga, J. (2004). Comparing care regimes in Europe. Feminist Economics, 10(1), 85–113. doi:10.1080/1354570042000198245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Bolin, K., Lindgren, B., & Lundborg, P. (2008). Your next of kin or your own career? Caring and working among the 50+ of Europe. Journal of Health Economics, 27(3), 718–738. doi:10.1016/j.jhealeco.2007.10.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Brandt, M., Haberkern, K., & Szydlik, M. (2009). Intergenerational help and care in Europe. European Sociological Review, 25(5), 585–601. doi:10.1093/esr/jcn076.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Buelens, M., & Van den Broeck, H. (2007). An analysis of differences in work motivation between public and private sector organizations. Public Administration Review, 67(1), 65–74. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6210.2006.00697.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Burton, W. N., Chen, C.-Y., Conti, D. J., Pransky, G., & Edington, D. W. (2004). Caregiving for ill dependents and its association with employee health risks and productivity. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 46(10), 1048–1056. doi:10.1097/01.jom.0000141830.72507.32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Carmichael, F., Connell, G., Hulme, C., & Sheppard, S. (2005). Meeting the needs of carers; government policy and social support. Management and Management Science Research Institute Working Paper.

  15. Colombo, F., Llena-Nozal, A., Mercier, J., & Tjadens, F. (2011). Help Wanted? Providing and Paying for Long-Term Care OECD Health Policy Studies. Paris: OECD.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Deindl, C., & Brandt, M. (2011). Financial support and practical help between older parents and their middle-aged children in Europe. Ageing & Society, 31(04), 645–662. doi:10.1017/S0144686X10001212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Dionne, G., & Dostie, B. (2007). New Evidence on the Determinants of Absenteeism Using Linked Employer-Employee Data. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 61(1), 108–120. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/ilrreview/.

  18. Drago, R., & Wooden, M. (1992). The determinants of labor absence: Economic factors and workgroup norms across countries. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 45(4), 764–778. doi:10.2307/2524592.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Driver, R. W., & Watson, C. J. (1989). Construct validity of voluntary and involuntary absenteeism. Journal of Business and Psychology, 4(1), 109–118. doi:10.1007/BF01023041.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Fast, J. E., Williamson, D. L., & Keating, N. C. (1999). The hidden costs of informal elder care. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 20(3), 301–326.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Frericks, P., & Pfau-Effinger, B. (2011). Carers at home. Varieties of family care in European Welfare States. Paper presented at the ESPAnet Annual Conference 2011: Sustainability and transformation in European Social Policy, Valencia, 8–10 September.

  23. Frone, M. R., Yardley, J. K., & Markel, K. S. (1997). Developing and testing an integrative model of the work-family interface. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 50(2), 145–167. doi:10.1006/jvbe.1996.1577.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Greenhaus, J. H., & Beutell, N. J. (1985). Sources of conflict between work and family roles. Academy of Management Review, 10(1), 76–88. doi:10.5465/AMR.1985.4277352.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Haberkern, K., & Szydlik, M. (2008). Pflege der Eltern–Ein europäischer Vergleich [Caring for parents—a European comparison]. KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 60(1), 82–105. doi:10.1007/s11577-008-0004-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hackett, R. D., & Guion, R. M. (1985). A reevaluation of the absenteeism—job satisfaction relationship. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process, 35, 340–381. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(85)90028-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hammer, L. B., Bauer, T. N., & Grandey, A. A. (2003). Work-family conflict and work-related withdrawal behaviors. Journal of Business and Psychology, 17(3), 419–436.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Henz, U. (2006). Informal caregiving at working age: Effects of job characteristics and family configuration. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(2), 411–429. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00261.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Hepburn, G. C., & Barling, J. (1996). Eldercare responsibilities, interrole conflict, and employee absence: A daily study. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1(3), 311–318. doi:10.1037//1076-8998.1.3.311.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Hoskins, I. (1993). Combining work and care for the elderly: An overview of the issues. International Labour Review, 132(3), 347–369. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org/.

  31. Huang, Y.-H., Hammer, L., Neal, M., & Perrin, N. (2004). The relationship between work-to-family conflict and family-to-work conflict: A longitudinal study. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 25(1), 79–100. doi:10.1023/B:JEEI.0000016724.76936.a1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Johansson, P., & Palme, M. (2002). Assessing the effect of public policy on worker absenteeism. The Journal of Human Resources, 37(2), 381–409.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Johnson, R. W., & Lo Sasso, A. T. (2000). The Trade-Off between Hours of Paid Employment and Time Assistance to Elderly Parents at Midlife. The Urban Institute. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/.

  34. Kossek, E. E., Colquitt, J. A., & Noe, R. A. (2001). Caregiving decisions, well-being, and performance: The effects of place and provider as a function of dependent type and work-family climates. Academy of Management Journal, 44(1), 29–44. doi:10.2307/3069335.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Kossek, E. E., & Ozeki, C. (1998). Work–family conflict, policies, and the job–life satisfaction relationship: A review of directions for organizational behavior–human resources research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(2), 139–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Kossek, E. E., & Ozeki, C. (1999). Bridging the work–family policy and productivity gap: A literature review. Community, Work & Family, 2(1), 7–32. doi:10.1080/13668809908414247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Mauno, S., & Rantanen, M. (2012). Contextual and dispositional coping resources as predictors of work–family conflict and enrichment: Which of these resources or their combinations are the most beneficial? Journal of Family and Economic Issues. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s10834-012-9306-3.

  38. Parent-Thirion, A., Fernández Macías, E., Hurley, J., & Vermeylen, G. (2007). Fourth European working conditions survey. Luxembourg: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

  39. Pavalko, E. K., & Henderson, K. A. (2006). Combining care work and paid work. Do workplace policies make a difference? Research on Aging, 28(3), 359–374. doi:10.1177/0164027505285848.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Pedersen, D., Minnotte, K., Kiger, G., & Mannon, S. (2009). Workplace policy and environment, family role quality, and positive family-to-work spillover. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 30(1), 80–89. doi:10.1007/s10834-008-9140-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Ponocny, I., Panholzer, S., Trukeschitz, B., Schneider, U., & Mühlmann, R. (2010). Die Erholungsmöglichkeiten von Erwerbstätigen mit und ohne informellen Pflegetätigkeiten. Befunde aus der Wiener Studie zur informellen Pflege und Betreuung älterer Menschen 2008 (VIC2008) [Recreation possibilities of employed informal caregivers. Results from VIC2008—Vienna Informal Carer Study 2008] (Forschungsbericht Nr. 1/2010). Vienna: Research Institute for Economics of Aging, Vienna University of Economics and Business.

  42. Royston, P. (2004). Multiple Imputation of Missing Values. The Stata Journal, 4(3), 227–241. Retrieved from http://www.stata-journal.com/.

  43. Schieman, S., Whitestone, Y. K., & Gundy, K. V. (2006). The nature of work and the stress of higher status. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 47(3), 242–257. doi:10.1177/002214650604700304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Skinner, N., & Pocock, B. (2008). Work–life conflict: Is work time or work overload more important? Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 46(3), 303–315. doi:10.1177/1038411108095761.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Smith, P. R. (2004). Elder Care, Gender, and Work: The Work-Family Issue of the 21st Century. Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law, 25(2), 351–399. Retrieved from http://www.ebscohost.com/.

  46. Spieß, K., & Schneider, U. (2003). Interactions between care-giving and paid work hours among European midlife women. Ageing & Society, 23(1), 41–68. doi:10.1017/S0144686X02001010.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Trukeschitz, B., Schneider, U., Mühlmann, R., & Ponocny, I. (2010). The dose makes the poison—evidence on the impact of caregiving on work-related strain (Working Paper 2/2010). Vienna: Research Institute for Economics of Aging, Vienna University of Economics and Business.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Voydanoff, P. (2005a). Toward a conceptualization of perceived work-family fit and balance: A demands and resources approach. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(4), 822–836. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00178.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Voydanoff, P. (2005b). Work demands and work-to-family and family-to-work conflict: Direct and indirect relationships. Journal of Family Issues, 26(6), 707–726. doi:10.1177/0192513x05277516.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Weigt, J. M., & Solomon, C. R. (2008). Work–family management among low-wage service workers and assistant professors in the USA: A comparative intersectional analysis. Gender, Work & Organization, 15(6), 621–649. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0432.2008.00419.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ulrike Schneider.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Zuba, M., Schneider, U. What Helps Working Informal Caregivers? The Role of Workplace Characteristics in Balancing Work and Adult-Care Responsibilities. J Fam Econ Iss 34, 460–469 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-012-9347-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Work–family conflict
  • Elder care
  • Informal care
  • Absenteeism
  • Work-to-family conflict