By: Gary Dumais, Psy.D., SPHR, Select Human Resources

As HR professionals, it’s imperative to continually ask ourselves if our efforts are truly helping or inadvertently enabling problems. Paid Time-Off (PTO) sharing programs are an example; while intended to help, programs like these can actually sustain the caregiver problem they’re trying to relieve. For readers who don’t already know:

Employer-sponsored leave-sharing programs provide employees with the opportunity to donate their accrued PTO, vacation or sick leave for the benefit of other employees who are in need of additional paid leave time (e.g., caregivers). Typically, an employer establishes a leave-sharing “bank” to track the donated employee leave.

To be frank, I’m disgusted that programs like these need to exist. It’s nauseating that coworkers have to beg, barter, and sacrifice just to find time for meeting basic human needs like caregiving for family. What’s next, HR programs to help employees donate their lunches to coworkers who aren’t paid enough to afford food?

In sum, it seems like it’s the company that benefits most from HR programs like these – not employees. The company saves money on PTO by “helping” employees to donate their own. In this way, I see HR as actually enabling employee exploitation.

I’m also drawing attention to how programs like PTO sharing sustain problems by providing fleeting fixes rather than addressing root causes. Caregiving wasn’t always the problem it is today. In the 1950’s, for example, a man with a high school diploma could earn enough money at a factory job to support a home and spouse devoted to family caregiving.

Nowadays, in contrast, a college education and student loans are often needed for even entry-level jobs that don’t pay enough for a mortgage or rent, thus requiring two wage-earning workers or more per household, saddled with debt. Some even believe that sociopolitical movements to “liberate” women from family caregiving roles were really just ploys to enslave them in the workplace – so government can make more money by taxing women’s income, property owners can charge more for housing two wage-earners, childcare centers and nursing homes can profit more from the caregiving gap created, and so on.

In conclusion, I encourage readers to consider if the caregiver programs your HR department is implementing are really helping employees, or are they actually helping the company to exploit employees? …which is a wise question to keep in mind in all we do as HR professionals.

About the Author

Gary Dumais, Psy.D., SPHR is a Business Psychologist & Human Resource Consultant at Select Human Resources. Specializing in people-assessment, he profiles people for jobs, protects companies from bad hiring decisions, and gives decision-makers insight into people’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential. He has deep expertise in psychometric assessments and interview methods for hiring, professional development, and succession planning. Dr. Dumais is also a seasoned executive coach. He has a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology, bachelor degrees in Psychology and Health & Human Services, and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources with over 20 years of experience.

Editor: Dennis Paris

Becoming a Philly SHRM Thought Leader

We are always looking for inspiring minds! If you are interested in learning more about how to become a Philly SHRM Thought Leader, offering your professional views about this or any Thought Leader article, or want to chat about contributing content on a hot or innovative HR related topic, please reach out to Dennis Paris and Brisilda Doma, Co-VPs of Thought Leadership at: