EXCLUSIVE: BP creates innovative support for working carers

Employee Benefits Live 2021: Initiatives to support working carers do not have to be expensive, and can utilise in-house resources, said Mayur Lalithraj, reward lead and co-chair working parents and carers business resource group, at BP.

Speaking in the panel session, ‘Strengthening business by empowering working parents and carers’, Lalithraj (pictured) explained how BP supports all employees with a hybrid working guideline of three days in the office and two days working from home, carers leave, enhanced parental leave policies, support groups and a buddy system.

The support groups were first implemented for parents and parents-to-be, but now buddies have been created for different groups, such as different age groups, employees with neurodiverse conditions or parents of teenagers.

“We can always be more innovative and use provision for the benefit of our employees,” said Lalithraj. “The biggest benefit of that is retention; if we can retain one employee for two more years, the amount of money we will save is amazing.”

Laura Mankaryous, acting benefits manager at Warner Media explained that the organisation offers a wide suite of benefits to working parents and carers. This includes eldercare and back-up childcare support, online tutoring for children, and the option to add family members, up to the age of 21, on to employees’ medical and dental policies.

But organisational culture needs to change in order to better support working carers, said Mankaryous.

“If somebody does have a dependant, it shouldn’t be frowned upon if that person needs to take time off,” she said. “Taking five days unpaid leave to care for a dependant is not feasible for some people. That should be supported by [an employer], even if it is a subsidised solution.”

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Joining Mankaryous and Lalithraj in the panel session, Gemma Barlow, HR business partner at LADbible, explained how the social media publisher, has recently launched its LADfamily suite of policies supporting pregnancy loss, fertility treatment, enhanced maternity and paternity provisions, and guidance for managers.

“I think [the pandemic] has put a spotlight on our working parents; allowing people to work from home, but giving them that flexibility so they’ve still got a collaborative space they can use if they want to come back into the working space,” Barlow said.