Centrica announces global policy giving carers 10 days of paid leave

Multinational energy and services organisation Centrica has announced that it will be amending its carers policy, giving employees with caring responsibilities access to 10 days of dedicated paid leave.

The new policy, which will come into effect on 1 June 2019, includes 10 days of paid carers leave, in addition to the ability to take a further 10 days, if each one is matched by a day from the employee’s annual leave allowance. Previously, Centrica staff had to match each day of their 20 days of carers leave with a day of annual leave, rather than having 10 dedicated days available to them in the first instance.

The enhanced leave policy will be rolled out across Centrica’s global operations. Of its 30,000 employees, Centrica reports that 1,118 are registered as members of its carers network, but the organisation predicts that the number with caring responsibilities is closer to 8,000, due to the fact that many individuals fail to realise that they qualify.

Iain Conn (pictured), chief executive officer at Centrica, said: “We are focused on retaining a diverse and skilled workforce through our Carers Policy, which includes flexible working and a carers network. We have announced a change to our carers leave policy to give our employees more time off to care for their loved ones without using their holiday allowances.

“We will be applying these principles across Centrica globally. We believe it’s the right thing for businesses to do and at Centrica we want to support our employees and share best practices with other employers.”

The new initiative has been communicated to staff on the organisation’s intranet, as well as on internal social networks and via email. Information has also been cascaded down to employees through line managers.

In addition to the new leave initiative, Centrica supports carers by providing staff with the technology to facilitate flexible working, both for those based in offices and for field staff and call centre employees. The organisation also offers alternative working arrangements, such as term-time contracts for engineers, and early finishes for call centre workers.

This approach to flexibility is part of a wider approach to work-life balance and boosting productivity, which also sees Centrica offer the chance for employees to request a sabbatical for up to one year.

Centrica has brought in its new carers leave initiative as part of a campaign to increase support for carers across the UK. The organisation is working alongside charity Carers UK, calling on the government to introduce five to 10 days of mandatory paid carers’ leave for all employers.

Helen Walker, chief executive at Carers UK, said: “More than 600 people give up work every day to care for a loved one, often taking with them skills and years of experience. Whether looking after a partner receiving hospital treatment, or supporting parents to live independently at home, a right to five to 10 days [of] paid care leave could make all the difference to a member of staff juggling work and care.

“It’s important now more than ever that the government and employers support the rising number of carers to remain in work. It makes good business sense and helps families who are caring. The consequences of failing to do so are huge.”