How many employees in your organisation have unpaid care responsibilities? Between 2010 and 2020, more than 1.9 million people in paid employment became unpaid carers each year, according to Census data. One in seven carers, meanwhile, juggle work and care, according to Carers UK’s report State of caring, published in November 2022.
With this group facing pressures in both their work and personal lives, this can be a difficult and stressful position for many. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that 75% of carers in employment worry about continuing to juggle work and care, according to Carers UK’s report.
This week marks Carers’ Week 2023 (5-11 June), the annual event aimed at raising awareness of caring, the challenges unpaid carers face, and recognising the contribution carers make.
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Given the number of carers in paid employment, how best to support these individuals will be a question facing many employers. Some carers may have concerns that sharing their situation with their employer could lead to them being viewed adversely in terms of career progression, commitment and engagement, for example. Creating an open, transparent culture in which employees feel able to bring and share their real selves, therefore, is vital if employers are to offer support for working carers.
In doing so, employers may find that they open up a wider potential talent pool. According to the 2021 census, more than half (59%) of carers are women. In addition, more women than men provide high-intensity care at ages when they would expect to be in paid employment, according to Cycles of caring: transitons in and out of unpaid care, published by Carers UK and the Centre for Care in November 2022. Regardless of gender, however, employers that take steps to provide support for carers within their workforce and help to ease the burden of juggling work and care responsibilities will undoubtedly reap the benefits in terms of recruitment and retention.
This week, professional services firm Aon became one of the latest employers to extend its support for working carers with the introduction of five days paid leave each year for all employees who provide unpaid care for relatives, partners or friends. To mark Carers Week, the organisation is also hosting a series of webinars for staff on issues impacting working carers, such as how they can build a personal support network.
With the number of working carers in the UK steadily increasing, the availability of such support is surely a win-win for all involved.