Balancing paid employment and caring responsibilities can be a huge challenge, leading to one in four carers considering leaving their job.
There are an estimated 3.7 million working carers in England and Wales. A growing number of people are playing a dual role in balancing their jobs with their caring responsibilities. More people have taken on caring responsibilities during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic exposing more people to the impact of looking after a loved one.
The University of Sheffield have recently written a report which has been commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The report examines how working carers combine their caring responsibilities with paid employment, and the difference employers can make by supporting them. The report is built upon the responses of 970 unpaid carers in paid employment (not including self employed) in July and August 2019 to an online questionnaire.
The CIPD is the professional body for Human Resources and people development. The registered charity champions better work and working lives.
Some of the key findings include:
- Carers struggle to balance their caring responsibilities with their work commitments. The majority of those surveyed provide care in addition to full-time paid work.
- Employers can do more to support carers in the workplace. Only two-fifths of working carers believed their employer was carer-friendly, with more than a quarter failing to discuss their caring role with anyone at their workplace, most commonly because they believed nothing would change if they did.
- Providing carers with support benefits both carer and employer – namely, by improving the wellbeing of employees, translating to reduced absenteeism and better retention for the business.
Download and read the full research report: Supporting working carers.
The report recommends that employers:
- Develop policies and practices, in consultation with working carers, with the aim of becoming a ‘carer-friendly’ employer
- Provide all carers with the right to take appropriate periods of paid leave to fulfil their responsibilities
- Consider and address why women are more adversely affected by combining work with care than men
- Provide counselling and wellbeing support for carers
- Publicise existing policies to increase employees’ awareness of their existence
- Consider flexible working policies such as flexible start and finish times and opportunities for home working.
"It’s time to ensure all employers offer such support, and that every employee can access paid carers’ leave. It makes good sense for business. It makes sound economic sense. And it makes good sense for the individual wellbeing of 3.7 million working carers," said Professor Sue Yeandle from the University of Sheffield.
If you are looking after a loved one and struggling to find balance find out about your rights in the workplace and consider speaking with your employer or an organisation such as Middlesbrough Citizens Advice if you need further guidance.