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To assist a relative with transportation or care giving? That is if I wanted to take a half day vacation to handle doctor visits. I read that you should never discuss benefits until you have a job offer. So my current plan in job hunting is to not even mention I'm a part time care giver.

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I agree with JoAnn. Employers are driven by dollars. If the employee isn't producing, they will simply fire you and find another. And they know unemployment is up therefore they feel they can do this successfully.
Of course this doesn't mean all employers are this way.
I wouldn't discuss taking PTO on an interview. Glad you are looking at options where you will have outside resources in place to help with your mom's needs.
Good luck with the job & I hope you get it!
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I have only had one job in my life where I have had a set schedule, since I am a salaried exemp employee, I have always made my own hours. My assistant is in his 20s and has custody of his kid. Even though he is an hourly employee, i let him make his own hours around child care. As long as his work is done, I dont really care what hours he works and if he can get 40 hours of work done in 32, I let him pay himself for 40. Depending on the field, employers really are not that strict anymore, most have flex scheduling. Just be upfront and it will work out.
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Employers are not as sympathtic anymore. One place I worked allowed only the time they gave you. I was allowed 8 sick/personal days. I took 2 in the year and it was in my review. If u went over the eight I don't know what would have happened. I would get the job first. You may have to find someone to take Mom to appointments. The company may allow you to work early or later to make up time.
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I think it would be better if I don't need to tell a perspective employer about my personal situation because I made other arrangements. My mother may not like the cost but I need to get her used to someone else assisting her rather than her arguing she doesn't need help when she can't even drive. She hasn't argued this point so she understands. I'll make phone calls. Thanks for the answers.
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Thanks for all the responses. I took my relative to two appointments today. I got a possible contact to call about transportation and plan on calling them and contacting possible home assistant care to find out if they need a certain minimum per week or month. I said part time work but it's usually in the evening just a little bit of unpaid time when I would usually be home anyway. My relatives situation has improved so less time is required but she can't drive. She will need assistance if I need to travel out of town for an extended duration. I am working on possible arrangements so that this will not be an issue at a job especially if I end up working one hour from my current home in South Carolina. Possibly farther if I need to relocate then she will definitely need assistance even if I might be able to visit only on weekends. I'm glad I found this site. Great ideas. Plan ahead. Find providers. Get things lined up so that my mother is accustomed to someone else other than me and no resisting change to get ready for the day when I have that job and she needs helps because she relapsed or her health went downhill and she needs assistance. Took her to 2 appointments today at two different places. Took all afternoon or about 4 hours and this is with her in better health.

I read not to ask about benefits until you get the job offer. After reading these comments, I believe it would be a great idea to start calling possible helpers to see if they could do as little as 4 hours a week just to get her used to someone else. A professional sounds like a good idea instead of an unreliable neighbor whom may not want to anyway. I think I will skip that idea about a neighbor.

Thanks. I had been thinking if I get a job, I need to make arrangements but I need to do that now and plan on eventually getting a job. Then have arrangements to expand their service if needed rather than tell a prospective employer I plan on making arrangements.
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When you are hired for a salaried position...the employer has every right to know in advance that you are not going to be available to work the hours needed when they are needed.

You would be setting yourself up for a negative experience, and a bad job report.

I worked years in the engineering field (computer). When the work needs to be done it cannot be put off. If you are paid a salary, you are expected to be there. If you have occasions where the coworker has to cover for you...you are going to be in trouble with work, and possibly loss of job.
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I have not been posting lately because some of the misinformation is just frustrating. So basic HR law here. Just because you are an engineer does not make you an exempt employee. It depends on the percentage of field time you participate in and other factors and the DOL has been cracking down on misclassification of employees. As for FLMA, there are ways around that...downsizing or "equivelent position" (by the way is in quotes in FMLA so it is subjective). What state are you in? Are you in an "at-will" state? HR law is complex and you need to look at your state laws. 

You need to be upfront and honest at the beginning and have an upfront agreement or your leaving yourself wide open.
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Perhaps the better question to ask during an interview than "time off" is asking an open-ended question like "What do you like about how this company supports your work-life balance?" If the person interviewing you for the job doesn't offer concrete examples about how s/he feels supported to take vacation, attend to their spouses and children, etc. then the company will not support you in your role as caregiver.

Also, few employers smile upon a new employee who starts in with needing time off to handle situations that pre-existed employment. You would be smart to make arrangements for your relative - transportation, etc. - rather than expect your new employer to accommodate you. Your employer is paying you to work and has a right to expect that you can be relief upon to be there just like everybody else.

You have gotten other good suggestions worth considering.
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I honestly cannot believe some of these answers. Definitely do not mention that you might need time off to take your mom to the doctor. That can be worked out after you have a job. Unless you have an incredibly heartless boss or start abusing it, there should not be any issue with having to take a few hours off to take your mom to the doctor, etc. Many jobs will allow you to do this and just make up the time.

I would get their paid time off policy no matter what. I don't think this is a red flag, but a determining factor in deciding which company to go with, along with their benefits package. I have worked in jobs that gave you paid time off up front and jobs where you earned a certain number of hours/days per week or month. If it is not a job that gives you paid time off up front, this is a negotiation point. Ask them if they can give you a week off up front with your offer. I have several friends who negotiated this successfully to add an additional week or two of paid time off in addition to their normal yearly allotment.

Good luck to you and your mom.
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i used to be a hiring manager - and someone asking about time off and how to use it was a red flag. Generally- companies expect you to be pretty much full time for at least six months to a year.

As a team player - i have been front line with co-workers who can't travel due to needing to take care of a parent. For several years - i traveled an extra four weeks per year. Mind you my husband then had extra duty at home and i had extra stress. Finally - i said no more, and my co-worker hates me now because i'm not willing to do her travel. It is hard to get coverage for her mom. Yes i get that but she has had five years of my traveling for her to figure it out.

I have had to cover for coworkers who had dying spouses. While understanding their needs for time off - i certainly supported the coworkers who said thank you, who did what they could at midnight when we were stumped, who asked where they could help with what little time they could offer vs those who disappeared completely.

i have had to leave work early due to child being sick. Due to my dad having a fall at the nursing home and going to ER. I try to log in at night so that i can take care of business. Someone has to take care of the customers. All of the work you are not doing - someone else has to do in addition to their work.

Probably not a popular view with the work-life balance myth that goes around, but based on my 20 years in an intensely competitive technical field.

Whatever you do - try to be the employee who understand that your time off (even if approved) means that those at work have to do the work.
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You do not have to disclose that you work part time to a prospective employer. That is none of their business. 
Whether the employer likes it or not, it does not need to be mentioned. 
I am thinking you mean you take care of a family member several hours a week, not that you are paid for it, but I can be wrong. 
If your employer has you sign a non compete agreement, meaning if hired at their engineering firm you can't work for a company in competition with them (another engineering firm). But other than that you do not have to disclose anything else to them that is not requested  on your application. 
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Granted, I laid it on a little thick. In my line of work, bolting out the door at 5:00 sharp is not a given. But hey, we all have families, right?! It's a dance. Someone can have one bad year, but the reputation lingers for 10 years. Whenever possible, err on the side of pre-planned and TLI (too little information).

I've been the employee who got dumped on when co-workers' lives were unraveling. I've been the employee took too many phone calls during business hours because parents had cancer and dementia. I've been the boss who was patient and considerate with a new employee who had challenges as a single father with sole custody, and assured me he had adequate back-up and assistance. (False. Between child care issues, court dates and car trouble, he went 6 months without working one 40-hour week.) I've been the boss of a direct report who abused FMLA to the hilt (info courtesy of Facebook) and I could do nothing, say nothing and was not allowed to replace him. ALL IN THE SAME YEAR!

Regardless of your employment status, you will benefit from having reliable transportation options and in-home help in place for Mom now. Make allowances for the financial cost.

Getting mom accustomed to someone (paid; non-family; a professional) doing light cleaning or yard maintenance for her will (hopefully) make her less resistant to the increasing home services she will need in the future.

If mom is fixated on staying in her own home indefinitely, make it clear to her (nicely!) that 100% of her needs cannot be met by family. If she insists otherwise, you'll have to agree to disagree.

There's only one of you. Everything mom needs to have done at her house needs to be done at your house, too. And that's just everyday chores and life maintenance. If mom's needs escalate to medical, a well-vetted visiting CNA or professional caregiver is worth 1,000 worn-out adult children. Who have no training in toilet transfers, insulin management, how to safely break a fall, etc.

Most elders' needs eventually outstrip an adult child's ability to provide. A lot of societal pressure spins this as a failure on the adult child's part. Not true. People live 15-25 years longer than they did a couple of generations ago. The posse of full-time homemakers who bridged the gap when an elder needed 6-18 months of extra TLC are mostly extinct.

We live in a whole different economy now. Nearly everyone -- regardless of age or gender -- needs to keep plugging away to keep their own health insurance and fund their 401Ks.

It's great that you are looking out for Mom. Keep thinking outside the box. Of course you'll be the primary. Getting Mom accustomed to a network of helpers will allow you to prioritize.

So many of us slip into parent-care at the "servant" level. This creates a mindset and habits that are hard to re-shape -- for both the caregiver and the care recipient. If I could do it all over again, I would have crafted an "executive" or "CEO" approach.

Seize every opportunity to plan, rather than react.

Take care and good luck. 🍀
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Unless you are at the top of your field, engineering jobs are highly desired. The competition for those jobs is serious. If you have a part time job already (you indicate that you caregiving is a part time job) then you need to reveal that. If you were working as a part time waitress...your employer would not like that either. Engineers are paid salary...not hourly.

I know of more than one employee at the top (Principal Engineer) who were terminated because of the "excessive" time off to take elderly parents to doctor appointments, and various emergency needs at home.

Perhaps you should be looking for job sharing. It is becoming more common. Or, try to find more split shift work.

While everyone has simpathy for the caregiver...that runs out when your fellow workers are doing more work because you aren't there.

If you need a part time job...do not seek full time pay.
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Hi Richard,

I think your approach would be the best. I would wait till you have a firm job offer. They will let you know about vacation days, personal days off, time off requests, and other benefits once the job offer is made. This will help coordinate your care for your mom.
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Richard, while you're at it keep looking for really reliable agencies or private caregivers you can call on ad hoc. Good back-up is the only way to avoid there eventually being a situation where you absolutely have to be in two places at once.

I understand Black Hole's point of view but it makes me sad. Time off wouldn't be the interview question I'd lead with, obviously, but you can be too cynical - see what you can find out about both what the company preaches and what it practises. How will things ever improve if no one ever states what the real needs are?
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Great answer, Blackhole. Also, management have to treat all employees the same. If they allow one employee to take half days off they need to be consistent across the board with all employees.

If your schedule needs don't meet theirs, they will replace you. Employers used to value their employees more, now they will simply fire you and find another applicant.

I don't know if I would discuss this at the interview, to tell you the truth. Maybe in a roundabout way, like, what the PTO policy is, like for instance must the employee find another employee to cover them when they take vacation (as my current job requires) or not. Or do a google search for HR sites and look for inquiries such as yours. 

This is a tough situation! I wish you the best. I see you are a part time CG; how much care does your person need? Assess the needs of the person you are caring for, set priorities and focus on those. For instance if it's transportation, you can start applying for county transportation, see if you have Uber in the area, look at hiring certified caregivers that will take the person to their appointments for you, neighbors or other family members . Also many PCP's have Saturday appointments available and many are opening their offices later in the day and see patients in the evening. I work with many PCP's;  one practice routinely opens the second Saturday of the month and has evening hours until 8pm once per week as well. You can look for a PCP with those flexible hours. 

Don't put your career on hold if at all possible. You need to live your life and pursue your career and have the right to do so. 
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Ask if vacation time or PTO can be taken in hourly increments and/or as half days. Do not elaborate beyond that.

Do not offer a "why." Ever. Not during the interview. Not while you are negotiating an offer. And not while you work at said job.

Your earned benefit is just that: your earned benefit. To use at your discretion -- even if you are locked into taking whole-day increments.

Most companies will give a spiel about flexibility or work/life balance. Smile and nod. 

The less your peers and supervisors know about your outside obligations, the better. Altho it is tempting to vent or justify or swap war stories" with someone who has a similar challenge, don't. Just don't.

The modern workplace is always looking for a scapegoat. If you find yourself in a work situation where you have to take odd increments of PTO for family issues, keep the why's and wherefores to yourself.

After you've been at a full time job a year or so, you'll be eligible for FMLA. Which is not the panacea some think it is. It only applies to certain relatives. You need a specific diagnosis + timeline to resolve. And the relative's doctor needs to complete extensive paperwork on your behalf. 

If you are salaried, FMLA must be scheduled as a continuous block of time. Can you accurately predict how long Mom or Dad's next crisis will take?

Hourly employees, however, are eligible for intermittent FMLA. Partial or full days on demand; not necessarily consecutive. More flexibility for you. Infinitely more hassle for the workplace.

In short, do what you have to do, but with minimal fanfare. It's hard not to "be that guy" when you ARE that guy. Very hard. Been there myself.

Cheers.
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Thanks. That's what I thought. Looking for an engineering job within an hour or so of my current location without having to move possibly myself and my elder mother if she wants to move. She lives independent except she can't drive and occasionally needs assistance. I don't know though, engineers often have to work flexible hours so I have found employers can be flexible as well. However I know when they want me there, I need to be there.
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It depends on what kind of job you are trying for, but generally in higher end jobs after the offer is made you will meet to discuss the details of your contract, so that is the time to bring up your desire for time off. Don't be surprised if you aren't given what you want though until you have proven your worth after a probationary period.
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