Your rights as a care partner
Your rights as a care partner
If you are a care partner to someone living with dementia, you may find it challenging to balance your care duties with your employment duties.
In some circumstances, you may be able to:
- Speak with your employer about adjustments to your job role or work schedule to achieve better balance.
- Use employer-provided time off with pay such as vacation days or personal days.
- Use employer-approved time off without pay to fulfill your care partner duties.
- Speak to your doctor about taking a medically-advised leave from work or requesting workplace accommodations if the demands of your care partner duties are affecting your mental or physical health.
In other circumstances, you may not have these options and will need to rely on Alberta employers’ legal obligations to provide job-protected leaves. These leaves have specific criteria and offer time away from work to tend to your own needs or someone else’s needs. All job-protected leaves in Alberta require employers to provide employees time off without fear of losing their employment. As a care partner, you may be eligible for personal and family responsibility leave, critical illness leave, and/or compassionate care leave.
Your responsibilities as an employee
While Alberta’s Human Rights Act and employment standards establishes obligations for employers, you also have responsibilities as an employee.
Specifically, you will be required to carry out the duties of your position, which may be your original position or a modified or new role as part of a workplace accommodation. You are also required to comply with workplace rules, regulations, policies, and legislation. If you are unable to safely, responsibly, and consistently fulfill your job requirements, then you or your employer may decide it is appropriate for you to exit your current role or workplace. If you are thinking about applying for a different role in a new workplace, then it is important to talk to your doctor about your ability to complete the role. This can also help you be forthcoming with an employer about any limitations related to your job duties and required workplace accommodations.
Before you leave your workplace
If you are thinking about leaving your workplace or the workforce all together, be sure that you have given your decision appropriate thought.
Take time to talk to your doctor and other health professionals about your abilities and limitations, gather information from your employer about how leaving your job will affect you, and talk to trusted family or friends about the pros and cons of your decisions.
If your doctor is recommending that you leave your job, it is still important to take time to gather information and talk to your family and friends before you exit the workplace. You may need to use vacation days or personal days or request employer-approved time off without pay; however, this time can be valuable as you plan your exit. If your employer will not provide you with time off and you are not medically cleared to work, you may be eligible for one of Alberta’s job-protected leaves from work.
If you are thinking about leaving the workplace only because you are struggling at work, consider talking to your doctor, employment-contact in your workplace (e.g., Human Resources, business owner), union or association, if applicable, or a lawyer specializing in employment issues. They may be able to help find solutions, such as workplace accommodations, to help you stay in the workplace.
If you are choosing to leave the workplace, give yourself time to plan for the future. The Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories has developed resources to plan for the future as well as specifically for people diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia. Depending on your relationship with your employer, you may also consider talking to your employer about succession planning. If you know you will be leaving the workplace, it can be beneficial to you and your employer to identify and provide support to whoever will be moving into your role.