Nearly one in nine workers in the UK are carers. By 2030 it is estimated that the number of carers in the UK will increase by 3.4 million to 9 million. This will no doubt bring a significant increase in the number of carers in employment.
The difficulties and stress of juggling caring and work responsibilities mean many people feel that they have no choice but to leave or change their jobs. The replacement of employees can be expensive and finding the right people to fill the gaps that are left is not always easy.
In addition, the peak age for being a carer is 45-64, meaning that these employees are often at the height of their career, with better knowledge, better people skills, staying longer with one employer and therefore a huge asset to businesses.
The Equality Act of 2010 accommodates the concept the that associative discrimination is unlawful and therefore, for example, if you are discriminated against because you care for a disabled relative it would be unlawful.
However, a workplace report on caring and isolation, issued in 2016, concluded that
• (71%) of employees have felt lonely or isolated in the workplace because of their caring responsibilities.
• (43%) working carers felt that colleagues and managers did not understand the impact of caring and 38% had not felt comfortable talking about their caring responsibilities at work.
• Many working carers are at breaking point; a staggering (32%) were caring for 50 plus hours a week.
• The top priority for workplace support was improved and consistent manager awareness of caring issues (37%) and more flexible/special leave arrangements (again 37%).
• (56%) of the carers who had given up work to care highlighted the stress of juggling work and care.
This demonstrates that so much more can be done by employers to support the carers in their workforce to stay in work. We can easily imagine with those statistics that employees may well start to benchmark which employers they want to work for based on whether their caring responsibilities are recognised and supported. Such ideas could include career breaks for caring, comprehensive agile and flexible working policies such as “carers leave” to match parental leave. A carer’s community lead by champions in organisations could be set up to provide information on such topics as back up care, remote working and financial planning.
For further advice on supporting your employees with caring responsibilities or different ideas on how to retain this important talent pool of employees please contact Clover HR today.