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Caretakers and Families

The University of Massachusetts Lowell understands the needs of many employees to care for family members. Being a caretaker is not considered a protected category under federal or state law. However, being a caretaker may be related to another protected category (for example, gender or association to a person with a disability). 

Caretakers may request accommodations in order to provide care for family members. Examples include shifted schedules or work-from-home arrangements. Supervisors should review the requests for feasibility and discuss them with Equal Opportunity and Outreach. Responses to requests for caretaker accommodations may not be based on gender-stereotyped beliefs about who “should be” providing care. Supervisors are not required to grant such requests if they are not feasible. 

An employee’s caretaking role cannot be included in decisions regarding work assignments, training, advancement, or other opportunities. Here are a few examples. A parent of young children, whether a mother or a father, should be given equal consideration with other applicants for a training or advancement opportunity. Supervisors should give full consideration to a man’s request for family sick time to care for his children. Similarly, they should not assume that a mother of young children cannot work on the weekends. Supervisors should not grant a higher salary to a male than his female counterpart simply because he the sole provider for his parents.

Employers have an affirmative responsibility to provide maternity/paternity leave to biological and adoptive parents. Contact Human Resources for more information. This type of leave is not considered a request for accommodation.

For your benefit, EOO has compiled this list of resources for balancing work with life and family needs.