Centrica considers whole family experience to support carers


Utility firm Centrica, which owns British Gas, is one pioneer in the field of eldercare.

Alison Hughes, Centrica’s head of HR policy and diversity, says: “Historically, we had a family leave policy that was focused on childcare: maternity and paternity.”

While still focused on making parents’ lives easier, Centrica decided to look at the whole family experience.

“One of the policies we have in place is carers’ leave for somebody who has eldercare responsibilities or responsibility for a disabled child,” says Hughes.

Centrica’s staff can take advantage of up to one month’s matched paid leave every year.

For example, if an employee looking after a parent after a stay in hospital for several days took two days of annual leave, then Centrica would match that two days. “It gives people that extra support and time off, and also means people aren’t using up all their annual leave for caring responsibilities,” says Hughes.

The policy has been hugely popular with staff.

Centrica also helps its carer employees by allowing them to work flexibly. That could mean working from home or altering their working hours on a temporary basis.

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Wellbeing in the round is also important. Just over 12 months ago, Hughes and her team introduced a new platform called the Centrica Work and Family Save.

Hughes says: “It gives our employees access to a wealth of information on very current issues, whether it’s changes to childcare vouchers and what that means in practice or a webinar series on things such as eldercare issues or children and technology. We work with an external partner to provide that. From an engagement point of view, that’s been really successful for us.”