The Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has shone a light on informal caring as pressures outside of work have increased, with many people caring for others for the first time as a result of this. People have struggled to balance work with new responsibilities and there are fears that these pressures may have set back previous progress on workplace support for those with family responsibilities.
For employers, the challenge is how they can support working carers and make sure that they do not have to give up work in order to provide care for older relatives. Carers UK estimated in its January 2019 research titled Juggling work and unpaid care: a growing issue that even before the pandemic, 600 people were leaving work each day because it was too difficult to balance work with their caring responsibilities. Now, the return to the workplace can bring fresh challenges for employees providing caring support.
Business in the Community (BITC) works with employers to help them understand how they can support working carers. We recently called on employers to take the following action: help people understand what a carer is and that you will help them balance work with caring. Many people do not identify as carers and so do not look for support. Carers’ networks can help with this.
Employers could offer flexible working, as according to October 2019 BITC research titled Equal Lives: parenthood and caring in the workplace, this is the support which carers find most valuable.
They could also offer carer’s leave, as the government plans this year to introduce an annual employee right to one week of carer’s leave and use carers passports, which record an employee’s caring needs and arrangements agreed to help them balance these with their work.
Angela Watson is the age campaign manager at Business in the Community