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Supporting carers in the workplace

By Phil Garcia on 14 Jun 2017

According to employers for carers, 1 in 9 people in your workforce will be caring for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill and with an ageing population and people living longer, more people in the workplace are going to have caring responsibilities. Yet the CIPD reported that only a third of employers currently support working carers. 

Clearly showing you support carers can help attract staff that may not have otherwise applied and will benefit retention. It can also reduce stress and sick leave and increase staff morale. As part of national Carers Week 2017, we have put together cost-effective ways to improve the support for carers in your workplace.

Offer flexible working

Carers have the right to apply for flexible working and are also entitled to time off for dependants for unforeseen workers. Flexible working can include:

  • Flexitime - this can include giving staff the flexibility to work a number of hours over a month or quarter, rather than set hours per day.
  • Term time working.
  • Job sharing.
  • Allowing staff to shift swap.

Flexible working is often key to enabling carers to be able to carry out their work duties alongside being a carer and a great tool to attract staff initially.
 

Have a support network

Caring for someone you love is not just exhausting, but can also be emotionally stressful. Carers can feel isolated, alone and can feel a huge amount of pressure on how they are relied upon. Create a support network in the workplace to support their emotional wellbeing. This could be an online/ telephone support, such as an employee assistance programme or create an in-house networking group for carers and managers. This can be as formal or as informal as needed by employees with regular or ad-hoc meetings and emails, to show continuing support.

Ensure all line managers are trained and able to understand and support carers. Managers should know what a carer is, what it entails and understand not everyone sees themselves as a carer. Training should include practical support to them e.g. allowing them to take personal calls when needed.

Have a Carers policy

It is important to have a written formal policy in place for carers. It can take fear away from employees when dealing with their rights and what is available to them by addressing their needs and ensure they are able to continue their job effectively and balance the needs of both work and care.

The policy should include allowances, such as being allowed mobile phones on them at all times, show support that is available to them and processes to follow, e.g. who to contact if they need time off at short notice.

If you want further advice on supporting carers in the workplace contact Phil Garcia, Consultant at TPP for Charity & Social Care on 020 7198 6080 or email phil.garcia@tpp.co.uk