In Europe, the bulk of long-term care services is provided by informal carers, often unpaid family members or friends, supporting people of all ages with a wide range of needs arising from disability, illness or other life situations.
This Peer Review discussed how informal carers can be better supported to reconcile work and care obligations. This will cover the level of eligibility, length and compensation of leave arrangements. Furthermore, it discussed flexible working options, including job-sharing, flexi-time and tele-working. In addition, an investment into new forms of care and the use of technology might support the work-life balance of informal carers.
The Peer Review built on experiences in Germany so far, as well as on experiences and outcomes from other European countries, namely the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, France, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia, on the development and assessment of support measures for informal carers.
In Germany, the latest amendments to the German Family Leave Act (Familienpflegezeitgesetz) and the Caregiver Leave Act (Pflegezeitgesetz) in 2015 aim to provide more flexibility and financial security to balance work and care. The regulations foresee:
- The right to stay away from work for up to ten working days to organise or ensure the sudden need of long-term care for a close relative. In 2015, this short-term leave was supplemented by a wage compensation benefit, the carer‘s grant.
- The right to completely or partially stay away from work for up to 6 months in order to provide long-term care to a close relative. Since 2015, carers can apply for an interest-free loan during that time.
- Since 2015, people caring for a close relative can be partially released from work for up to 24 months (with a minimum of 15 hours of weekly working time), also with the possibility of receiving an interest-free loan.
- In addition, leave is also granted for children in need of long-term care who are not cared for at home (6 or 24 months) as well as for the last phase of life (up to 3 months).