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Monday, January 09, 2006
Leave of Absence OK
Caring for aging parents has become a workforce issue with which many of us are dealing. While caring for aging parents is as old as time, the dynamics of our modern society have changed and now make it a significant issue in many lives. Fifty years ago, most women were still in the home full-time and families weren’t as geographically separated as today. Daughters and sons were closer to parents and had more time to spend in their care. Elderly parents either lived down the street, next door, or even in the back bedroom of the extended family home. If a parent was ill or needed assistance, it was simply a part of life.

Today, both men and women are taking leaves of absence to care for aging parents and then facing the hurdle of getting back in the employment market when their duties are done. It can seem like a daunting prospect.

A common question we receive is “How do I explain this on my resume?” The simplest and best answer is “Tell the truth.” Time off to care for an aging parent is becoming a relatively common occurrence among workers and employers are accustomed to seeing applicants who have taken time off from their careers to care for their aging parents. A small descriptive blurb on the resume is appropriate to explain the time gap, something like:

Leave of Absence May-December, 2004
Took extended leave in order to care for aging mother and see to her final needs.

Beyond that, nothing is needed. If the employer has any questions about it, he/she can bring it up in an interview, the correct forum for giving more details concerning your familial responsibilities. Most employers won’t consider it a black mark against a candidate and the honesty of covering that period in the resume can actually score points for candidates.

But what if you need to continue working while taking significant time away from work to care for a parent? Talk to your present employer and explain the situation first. It is possible that you can alter your schedule to fulfill both your needs and the needs of the employer. Maybe a work-at-home situation would be appropriate. Possibly a job-share situation could be created where you work part-time and share your employment responsibilities with a co-worker with similar scheduling needs. There are a great many scenarios that may be worked out to accommodate both your needs and the employers’.

If your current employer can’t or won’t work with you, make sure you have a great resume and that you are prepared to be clear with prospective employers about your situation and what your requirements will be. Do not accept a job and then blind-side the employer with your need for time off or flex-hours.

Remember, employers are people, too. More than likely they are facing concerns with caring for their parents or they see that concern on their own horizons. By being up-front and honest with your employer, you will be more likely to come to a satisfactory arrangement where you can work and take care of Mom and Dad.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 /


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