Nearly half of carers work, alongside caring. To combine the two, carers need to be able to rely on good quality, flexible health and care services. They also need to have an understanding employer and flexible working arrangements.
Carers should be able to work in an environment that supports them. This can be achieved through formal policies and procedures, or informal arrangements with the support and understanding of colleagues and managers.
Use Carers Week to let your employees know what you're already doing to help them manage the strain of caring alongside work. It's also the perfect opportunity to launch something new.
There are some simple steps that employers can take to reduce feelings of isolation and ensure that carers are able to balance work with their caring responsibilities:
- Introduce and promote flexible working policies.
- Introduce paid care leave so that carers are not forced to take annual leave for caring emergencies.
- Set up or encourage staff to set up a carers' staff network.
- Invest in an employee assistance programme.
- Ensure that there is regular communication to employees informing them of their rights, including their right to request flexible working and take emergency time off to care for dependents when they need it.
- Around 1 in 9 of your employees will also be carers. Use Carers Week to make sure they are aware of the support available in the workplace and externally. Use a Carers Week email template or hold an exhibition or other event to help people to know what's available.
- Ask your Human Resources department to highlight the kind of support people can get through flexible working.
- When you are recruiting, be aware that candidates may have gained valuable skills as carers such as managing direct payments, and complex scheduling such as co-ordinating a range of professionals.
You have a vital role in helping your staff juggle work alongside their caring responsibilities and help promote a carer friendly workplace.
There are many simple actions that you can take to become more carer friendly:
- Ensure that all your staff are aware of the relevant HR policies that your organisation has in place to support staff with caring responsibilities.
- Make it easy for your employees to talk to you about their caring responsibilities at work and offer whatever support you can offer within your company's policies. Whether you can provide specific support or not, it is better for you and your staff if they are able to talk to you about their caring role, rather than overstretch themselves.
- Signpost colleagues to support they can get outside the workplace, such as advice and information services and peer support groups.