This week we take some time to reflect on the carers within our community and our businesses. According to a survey by Carers UK there are over 6.5 million carers in the UK and 3 million of those combine paid work with caring for family members and friends who are disabled, unwell, older or vulnerable and need an extra bit of support. That means that approximately 1 in 9 employees in every workplace has some form of caring responsibilities. As the population continues to age it seems highly likely that this percentage will continue to grow.  

The pressure of balancing caring responsibilities with work and day to day commitments can impact on performance and attendance at work and it is reported that around 1 in 5 carers reduces their working hours or gives up work entirely due to their caring responsibilities. Retaining skilled and engaged employees is important to business success, so as employers what steps can we take to support carers within our workforce?

1) Develop a policy

A clear policy will set out the company’s commitment to supporting those with caring responsibilities and will outline the practical arrangements that are in place. As with all policies the contents should be clearly communicated to all employees and reviewed periodically.

2) Train line managers

Training for line managers is crucial to ensure they are best placed to provide support. They need to understand what caring is, why carers must be supported, what that support might look like and how it might be achieved.

3) Provide flexible working options

Employees with 26 weeks service already have the right to request flexible working but having a policy that allows greater flexibility for carers could allow better balance between their work and caring responsibilities. Consider options such as flexing start and finish times or working days or allowing an element of home working.

4) Introduce flexible leave arrangements

Caring can be unpredictable and may force an employee to take extended time off, often without notice. Allowing short notice or extended periods of leave or allowing paid time off with the opportunity to make up lost hours at a later date can be helpful.  

5) Signpost to external sources of support

As an employer you can’t always have all the answers but there are organisations out there that are experts in the field. Collate together and share key sources of external support and advice including your Employee Assistance Programme if you have one.

Not sure where to start? Get in touch and we will work with you to help you take care of your carers.  

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash