There are around seven million carers in the UK – that is one in ten people. You are very likely to have carers working for you, whether they have told you or not.
Why should you care about carers?
Recognising that there are carers in your workforce, and supporting them to manage their caring responsibilities and work can:
- Reduce stress and improve job performance.
- Improve job satisfaction.
- Improve commitment to the organisation.
- Decrease staff turnover.
How you can support carers in your workforce
Unlike parents, many carers are invisible in the workforce, reluctant to discuss their personal situation and unaware of the support available to them.
- Be aware of your duties as an employer under the Equality Act 2010.
- Nominate a key contact in the workplace.
- Set up an internal carers group or forum – to allow carers to meet together occasionally – for mutual support, information sharing and to raise the profile of caring in the organisation. Depending on the type and structure of your organisation, this might be a face-to-face or a virtual group. Allow time for the carers you employ to attend the group.
Offer practical support through your employment policies and practices
Quote carers specifically in policies and other documentation or create a policy specifically for carers.
Caring is often less predictable than child-care. Flexible working policies need to include the flexibility to change arrangements as caring responsibilities change. They also need to recognise the possibility of emergencies arising.
Implement flexible working policies compliant with the current law, and allowing as much flexibility for change as is consistent with business needs. Review all your employment policies to ensure they are ‘carer friendly’ – for example, does your policy on stress management recognise the complex linkages between work related and home related stress? Also organise training for managers in carer awareness.
Ask carers what will help them to successfully combine work and caring
The people who know best what will really make a difference to their ability to do a good job for you and keep up with their caring responsibilities at the same time, are carers. There are often small and inexpensive things employers can do to help – such as:
- Allowing carers to leave mobile telephones on in meetings in case of emergencies.
- Flexing start and finish times to help people deal with caring commitments before and after work.
- Allowing carers time and access to a telephone to check on the person they care for from time to time while working.
Surveys, focus groups and employee carer groups are all useful ways to find out what the carers you employ would value.
Then develop a specific Carers in Employment policy setting out the various ways your organisation will support carers in the workforce.
The impact of caring can be much better managed and controlled if carers have good information about services and support available.
- Advertise contact information about the local carer services.
- Share links from this website.
- Provide resources to support the internal carers group.
- Hold information events.
- Forge formal links with organisations supporting carers (including Carers Trust’s local Network Partners).
- Your local carer service may offer carers employment, education and training support. Get in touch with them to see how you could support carers that work for you.ACAS offers training on flexible working, as well as providing comprehensive guidance.
- Find out more about The right to flexible working on the ACAS website.
- Get in touch with ACAS for free advice for both employers and employees on a variety of employment related subjects.
Employers for carers is a resource for employers.
Next update due: January 2022