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Patchy support from employers forcing many carers to forgo promotions, reduce working hours or leave work altogether

08 June 2016

The life chances of many of the 3 million people in the UK who combine paid work with caring for a disabled, older or ill family member or friend1 are being damaged by a lack of support and awareness about caring from employers, according to new research launched today for Carers Week 2016.2 

Carers reported significant barriers to being able to balance caring for a family member or friend with paid employment:

  • Over a third (38%) don’t feel comfortable talking about caring at work
  • Over a third (35%) say their employer doesn’t understand their caring role
  • A third (33%) say their employer doesn’t have policies in place to support carers

This lack of support and recognition from employers is having a significant impact on carers’ life chances, causing many carers to forgo promotions, reduce their working hours or leave work altogether. As a result of barriers to balancing employment and care:3

  • 60% of carers have given up work or reduced their hours to care
  • 25% of carers have been unable to pursue, or had to turn down, a promotion
  • 37% of carers say their work has suffered
  • 42% of carers have struggled financially

More specifically, when an employer doesn’t have policies in place to support those balancing work and care, the negative impact on carers is even more significant:

  • 72% of carers have given up work or reduced their hours to care
  • 29% of carers have been unable to pursue, or had to turn down, a promotion
  • 44% of carers say their work has suffered
  • 55% of carers have struggled financially

When carers are supported by their local community,4 they are twice as likely to always be able to balance employment and care [5]. However, only a minority of carers say they actually feel valued and recognised by their community (26%), indicating that there is still a long way to go.

 


Emily Holzhausen, who leads the Carers Week partnership, said:

 

“Despite 1 in 9 people in the UK workforce balancing paid work with caring for a disabled, older or ill family member or friend, caring still remains a relatively hidden issue in many workplaces. Indeed, high numbers of carers told us that they don’t feel comfortable talking about their caring role at work and that their managers and colleagues don’t understand their caring responsibilities.

“There are a number of ways that employers can improve the way they support carers in the workplace. An understanding manager, flexible working policies, and workplace carers’ networks that offer peer support all have a vital role to play in supporting carers in employment.

“This support delivers a triple win for carers, employers and the wider economy. Evidence shows that supportive employers help carers to stay in work for longer and have a life of their own outside of caring; which in turn leads to employers benefitting from greater staff retention, less absence and improved performance and productivity. As our population ages, growing numbers of people will be juggling work and care. This is an issue that employers can’t afford ignore.”

Simple actions that employers can take to improve the way they support carers, include:

  • Introduce and promote flexible working policies
  • Introduce paid care leave so that carers are not forced to take annual leave for caring emergencies or to support the person they care for
  • Set-up or encourage staff to set-up a carers’ staff network
  • Ensure there is regular communication to all employees informing them of their right to request flexible working and take emergency time off

Carers Week is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Motor Neurone Disease Association and MS Society. 


Ends

Media contact

Case studies, good practice examples and spokespeople are available on request.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Gilbert, Senior Media and Case Study Officer at Carers UK and for Carers Week, on:

  • 020 7378 4937
  • 07534 630 667 (out of hours)

References

1 Census 2011

Building Carer Friendly Communities, Carers Week [2016]

The Carers Week research report, Building Carer Friendly Communities, is based on responses from 6,149 carers who completed Carers UK’s annual State of Caring survey online between March-April 2016.

The statistics in this press release are based on the responses of the 5,682 people who are currently caring for a family member or friend in the UK. They do not include responses from the 467 people who declared they are not currently caring for a loved one, as their caring role has come to an end.

Compared to the carer population as a whole, respondents to this survey were more likely to be female, disabled themselves and caring for a high number of hours every week.

3 Building Carer Friendly Communities, Carers Week [2016]

Carers completing the State of Caring 2016 survey were given the following definition of community: “When we say ‘community’, we are firstly talking about the services and amenities in your local area, such as your high street, public transport, social clubs, or place of worship; this also includes your employer, your GP or local hospital. We are also talking about your ‘sense of community’ - how included you feel by local services and people, whether you believe your role as a carer is well understood by them, and whether you think your voice is heard on important issues.”

Building Carer Friendly Communities, Carers Week [2016]


About Carers Week 2016

Carers Week will take place from 6–12 June 2016, across the UK.

Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign which takes place to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers. It is also a time of intensive local activity with thousands of events planned for carers across the UK.

Carers Week is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Motor Neurone Disease Association and MS Society.

Carers Week is kindly supported by Sainsbury’s, Nutricia and the Lockwood Charitable Foundation. 


Carer Friendly Communities

Carer Friendly Communities are places where local people and services understand a carer’s daily reality and do what they can to make life a little bit easier for them. For example, a GP practice might offer appointment times that fit around someone’s caring responsibilities, or an employer might implement HR policies to support employees who juggle work with care.

www.carersweek.org/about-carer-friendly-communities   


What is a carer?

A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older.

For some, taking on a caring role can be sudden: someone in your family has an accident or your child is born with a disability. For others, caring creeps up unnoticed: your parents can’t manage on their own any longer or your partner’s health gradually worsens.

The amount and type of support that carers provide varies considerably. It can range from a few hours a week, such as picking up prescriptions and preparing meals, to providing care day and night.

Caring will touch each and every one of us in our lifetime, whether we become a carer or need care ourselves. Whilst caring can be a rewarding experience, it can also have a damaging impact on a person’s health, finances and relationships.

To find out how you can get support in your caring role, visit: www.carersweek.org/support


Facts about carers

  • By 2037, it is estimated that the number of carers in the UK will rise to 9 million
  • Every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility – that equals over 2 million people every year
  • 58% of carers are women and 42% are men
  • Carers save the economy £132 billion per year, an average of £19,336 per carer
  • Over 3 million people juggle care with work, however the significant demands of caring mean that 1 in 5 carers are forced to give up work altogether

Carers Week 2018

These organisations joined together to make Carers Week happen in 2017

  • logo01
  • Carers UK new logo
  • image description
  • independent age
  • macmillan
  • MSS-logo-orange partnersrow
  • MND logo
  • Which Elderly Care logo

Proudly supported by:

  • The Lockwood
    Charitable Foundation
  • Nutricia

 

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