Sally Hulston: Support for working carers will ensure employers retain the best talent

Sally Hulston

An ageing population and the fact that we are all working for longer means that more people are likely to become working carers than ever before. This includes a growing sandwich generation tasked with juggling the care of both children and elderly relatives.

Increasingly, employers are offering varying degrees of specialised eldercare support, which can include a short amount of paid time off under a carer’s leave policy, and access to helplines and specialists to advise on and manage the needs of elderly relatives. However, well-trained line managers and a progressive attitude towards flexible working is where employers are likely to be able to offer the most support.

Although the government’s plans to offer a year’s unpaid leave for carers are not unwelcome, unpaid leave for a year is not financially viable for many. In other cases, it will not be the best solution, such as where only short stretches of time off are needed, especially as many carers prefer to be spending some time at work.

Employers wishing to offer more support to their working carers could consider establishing a self-referred carer’s register to help connect working carers and provide a network of peer support, or just be aware that granting simple requests, such as to keep a mobile phone to hand or to have access to a car parking space close to work to leave quickly in an emergency, might be all that is needed to make a difference.

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As the number of older people needing care begins to outstrip the number of adult ‘children’ able to provide this, employers wishing to retain the best talent within their organisation will no doubt want to keep their level of support in this area under review.

Sally Hulston is employment partner at law firm Addleshaw Goddard